Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Neuronal Choir Hums In Unison To Rivet Brain's Attention

Date:
February 23, 2001
Source:
NIH/National Institute Of Mental Health
Summary:
In a crowded room of people talking, a few voices singing in unison will quickly drown out the noise. NIMH scientists have discovered that the brain uses a similar principle to enable its neurons engaged in critically important tasks to win out over neurons essentially processing distractions.

In a crowded room of people talking, a few voices singing in unison will quickly drown out the noise. NIMH scientists have discovered that the brain uses a similar principle to enable its neurons engaged in critically important tasks to win out over neurons essentially processing distractions. In the February 23, 2001 Science, Robert Desimone, Ph.D., Pascal Fries, Ph.D., and Laboratory of Neuropsychology (LNP) colleagues, suggest that synchronous neuronal firing may be a fundamental mechanism for boosting the volume of brain signals representing behaviorally relevant stimuli.

Related Articles


Desimone and colleagues pinpointed the responses of brain neurons in monkeys paying attention to a particular stimulus and ignoring nearby distracters. Using electrophysiological recordings, they monitored groups of neurons in the visual processing area at the back of the brain (V4). They discovered that neurons activated by features of the attended stimulus conspicuously synchronized their activity in the gamma (40-90 hz) range, which roughly corresponds to the hum of an electrical power outlet or fluorescent light. Meanwhile, neurons activated by features of the distracters, in effect, continued to speak with disparate voices.

The researchers suggest that such synchronous ensemble firing produces an amplifying effect that telegraphs the oscillating signal representing the attended stimulus to downstream processing areas in the brain. These areas, such as the inferior temporal cortex, will, in turn pass on the signal to brain areas involved in the highest levels of visual cognition and awareness, creating, in effect, a chain reaction through the visual processing pathways.

"Disorders of attention are common components of various mental illnesses," noted Desimone, who serves as both Chief of the LNP and as Director of the NIMH Intramural Research Program. "We're beginning to appreciate that the things that go awry in the brain may have to do with the timing of neuronal signals - with the neuronal choir going out of sync." He suggested that future studies might examine possible underlying mechanisms, such as the role of neuromodulators, such as acetylcholine, in synchronizing activity of neuronal ensembles.

###Also participating in the research were John Reynolds, Ph.D., NIMH LNP and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Alan Rorie, Ph.D., NIMH LNP.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Federal Government's primary agency for biomedical and behavioral research. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information about NIMH and its research programs, visit the NIMH web site http://www.nimh.nih.gov.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute Of Mental Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute Of Mental Health. "Neuronal Choir Hums In Unison To Rivet Brain's Attention." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010223080412.htm>.
NIH/National Institute Of Mental Health. (2001, February 23). Neuronal Choir Hums In Unison To Rivet Brain's Attention. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010223080412.htm
NIH/National Institute Of Mental Health. "Neuronal Choir Hums In Unison To Rivet Brain's Attention." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010223080412.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins