Navigation Links
Study offers new clue on how brain processes visual information
Date:7/23/2012

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. July 23, 2012 Ever wonder how the human brain, which is constantly bombarded with millions of pieces of visual information, can filter out what's unimportant and focus on what's most useful?

The process is known as selective attention and scientists have long debated how it works. But now, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have discovered an important clue. Evidence from an animal study, published in the July 22 online edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience, shows that the prefrontal cortex is involved in a previously unknown way.

Two types of attention are utilized in the selective attention process bottom up and top down. Bottom-up attention is automatically guided to images that stand out from a background by virtue of color, shape or motion, such as a billboard on a highway. Top-down attention occurs when one's focus is consciously shifted to look for a known target in a visual scene, as when searching for a relative in a crowd.

Traditionally, scientists have believed that separate areas of the brain controlled these two processes, with bottom-up attention occurring in the posterior parietal cortex and top-down attention occurring in the prefrontal cortex.

"Our findings provide insights on the neural mechanisms behind the guidance of attention," said Christos Constantinidis, Ph.D., associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and senior author of the study. "This has implications for conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which affects millions of people worldwide. People with ADHD have difficulty filtering information and focusing attention. Our findings suggest that both the ability to focus attention intentionally and shifting attention to eye-catching but sometimes unimportant stimuli depend on the prefrontal cortex."

In the Wake Forest Baptist study, two monkeys were trained to detect images on a computer screen while activity in both areas of the brain was recorded. The visual display was designed to let one image "pop out" due to its color difference from the background, such as a red circle surrounded by green. To trigger bottom-up attention, neither the identity nor the location of the pop-out image could be predicted before it appeared. The monkeys indicated that they detected the pop-out image by pushing a lever.

The neural activity associated with identifying the pop-out images occurred in the prefrontal cortex at the same time as in the posterior parietal cortex. This unexpected finding indicates early involvement of the prefrontal cortex in bottom-up attention, in addition to its known role in top-down attention, and provides new insights into the neural mechanisms of attention.

"We hope that our findings will guide future work targeting attention deficits," Constantinidis said.


'/>"/>
Contact: Marguerite Beck
marbeck@wakehealth.edu
336-716-2415
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Not All HIV Patients in U.S. Show Same Characteristics: Study
2. Women With HIV May Not Have Higher Cervical Cancer Risk: Study
3. HIV suppression not as good as previously thought, largest study of viral-load blood tests show
4. Benefits of HIV drugs rise -- but less than previously believed, Penn study shows
5. Study examines characteristics, risk factors among HIV-positive persons born outside the US
6. Vitamin D May Delay Deterioration of Smokers Lungs: Study
7. Biology Leaves Gay Men Highly Vulnerable to HIV: Study
8. Older Americans See Better Today, Study Finds
9. Autumn Birthday Ups Odds of Living to 100: Study
10. Rutgers study: Anxiety disorders in poor moms likely to result from poverty, not mental illness
11. Monkey Study Suggests Long-Term Use of ADHD Drugs Safe
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... April 27, 2017 , ... Are you investing in the safety of your ... drownings during the summer. While most of us assume this type of accident will ... Very few people are taking the time to learn how to respond effectively or ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... ... announce the ATA 2017 President’s Awards recipients, comprised of organizations and individuals ... delivery. , The ATA 2017 President’s Awards recognize individuals and organizations ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... Infertility may ... pelvic conditions and has helped many women become pregnant upon treating their diagnosis. ... office-based and simple outpatient evaluations. We can provide the necessary information to ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... ... ecosystem and domain expertise for sponsors and CROs to speed clinical development, ... management (RTSM) software platform. Bioclinica AGILE RTSM provides seamless clinical ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... April 25, 2017 , ... ... awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and funding for Duchenne research, congratulates Capricor ... I/II HOPE clinical trial in Duchenne announced today. , Coalition Duchenne funded ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/19/2017)... Cardiology devices segment is anticipated to reach the highest market ... segment is likely to create absolute $ opportunity of a ... By the end of 2027, Cardiology Devices segment is projected ... expanding at a CAGR of 18.4% over the forecast period. ... reprocessed medical devices market in terms of revenue ...
(Date:4/19/2017)...  IRIDEX Corporation (Nasdaq: IRIX ) today ... first quarter 2017 after the close of trading on ... host a corresponding conference call beginning at 2:30 p.m. ... in listening to the conference call may do so ... 326-3030 for international callers, using conference ID: 92158987.  A ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... Global Prostate Cancer Therapeutics Market: Overview ... cancer therapeutics market analyzes the current and future ... prostate cancer, launch of promising emerging therapies, as ... drugs & therapeutic biological products, and high growth ... side effects are some of the drivers expected ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: