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How does the brain decide what to focus on?

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have made a breakthrough in understanding how the brain decides what to pay attention to.…

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have made a breakthrough in understanding how the brain decides what to pay attention to. The experts made the discovery while studying lambs and they think the discovery applies to all animals, including humans.
Study Coauthor and Neuroscience Shreesh Mysore is assistant professor of psychological and brain science subjects.
“There are a million things out there in the world that bombard our eyes, ears, our skin and other sensory bodies. Of all these things, what special information do we need to pay the most attention at any time to drive our behavior?” Said professor mysore “Our work gives a really beautiful answer to how the brain solves a key component of that problem.”
For decades, studies focusing on the animal’s body part have not given a clear insight into how the brain chooses what to focus on. In the current study, researchers decided to investigate the midbrain, an evolutionary older part of the brain.
“All animals need to pay attention to what can affect our survival, but we do not all have a highly developed occurrence,” said Professor Mysore.
The researchers chose to focus their owls survey because they have a midbrain that is organized in a way that makes it relatively easy to track the activity of specific neurons.
When researchers showed 1

5 owls of visual stimuli on a monitor while measuring the activity of individual neurons in their midbrains, they found something unexpected. Individual neurons usually cipher visual space topographically, meaning neighboring nervous cells encoding spaces for nearby parts of the world. But now the experts observed single neurons that responded to different places that were sometimes far from each other.
Using a model developed by the principal author Nagaraj Mahajan, a doctoral student in electrical engineering and computer engineering, the team found that neurons needed to signal the most important place in the world no matter where the visual input came from. The only way it was possible to encode space while metabolic and management costs were checked were to have fewer neurons than places in the world, where each neuron coded for multiple sites. Owls brains matched these calculation forecasts almost exactly.
“This gives us an answer for the first time about how the brain actually solves the problem of choice in all possible places,” said Professor Mysore. “What we have now is a satisfactory response to a problem that is both basic and universal. There is a promise that the insights from this study can be generalized very well all the way to people.”
The team hopes that the results will help experts to Understand what goes wrong in disturbances as attention deficit.
“Our thinking is that these midbrain rhinos can be an important key to the puzzle of inability to focus,” said Professor Mysore. “This is basic research, but it builds ideas that can ultimately be tested in patients and, if we are lucky, we can help us get started with therapies.”
The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer
Image Credits: Nagaraj Mahajan / Johns Hopkins University
Original article can be found by clicking here

Original article can be found by clicking here

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