Multiple brain regions involved in allowing people to concentrate

ANI| Updated: Jan 16, 2014, 11:51 AM IST
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Washington: Researchers have claimed that the brain seems to synchronize the activity of different brain regions to make it possible for a person to pay attention or concentrate on a task.

Senior author Maurizio Corbetta, MD, the Norman J. Stupp Professor of Neurology, and her team used grids of electrodes temporarily implanted onto the brains of patients with epilepsy.

Co-senior author Eric Leuthardt, MD, associate professor of neurosurgery and bioengineering, uses the grids to map for surgical removal of brain tissues that contribute to uncontrollable seizures to analyze brain changes linked to attention.

With patient permission, the grids also can allow Leuthardt's lab to study human brain activity at a level of detail unavailable via any other method.

With the grids in place, Corbetta and Leuthardt could study the changes that occur in milliseconds.

Before grid implantation, the scientists scanned the brains of seven epilepsy patients, using MRI to map regions known to contribute to attention. With the grids in place, the researchers monitored brain cells as the patients watched for visual targets, directing their attention to different locations on a computer screen without moving their eyes.

When patients saw the targets, they pressed a button to let the scientists know they had seen them.

Excitability regularly rises and falls in the cells that make up a given brain region. But these oscillations normally are not aligned between different brain regions.

The results have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.