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Brain implant reveals the neural patterns of attention
Date:2/24/2010

the rhythm of a volley or a dribble to better attune its attention and motor response. To make this fine-tuning possible, electrical oscillations at different frequencies in cortex may play off each other like the instruments of a jazz band.

"The slow rhythm is kind of like the rhythm section, and you anticipate notes at particular moments in time based on that slower rhythm." Hatsopoulos explained.

This new understanding of the relationship between brain activity and attention may have relevance in the field of neuropsychology, where EEG recordings are able to pick up beta and delta oscillations with reduced spatial resolution. A diagnostic and therapeutic tool could be developed that uses such recordings to assess a person's attention from moment to moment, Hatsopoulos speculated, with the signal fed back to the person to improve their attention.

The rhythmic patterns of oscillations may also be useful in developing better brain-machine interface technology for quadriplegic individuals to operate prosthetics, Saleh said.

"The brain-computer interface is meant to help a person move a cursor with his thoughts about movement," Saleh said. "But when a person is 'plugged into' a brain-computer interface, he doesn't always want to use it; occasionally, he might just want to tune out and do nothing. Using features from these oscillations, the computer can determine when a patient is ready to move."

The ability to understand the role these oscillations play in the motor cortex of humans was "unbelievably valuable," said Charles Schroeder, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons who has previously studied low-frequency oscillations in cortex.

"All these things converge on this idea that low-frequency oscillations reflect the brain's plans; they are really critical," Schroeder said. "Understanding the oscillatory dynamics of cortex helps you think about how you can develop th
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Contact: Rob Mitchum
robert.mitchum@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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