Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Naturally Occurring Chemical In Brain Enhances Visual Processing

Date:
November 24, 2007
Source:
New York University
Summary:
Neuroscientists have found that a naturally occurring chemical in the brain can enhance visual processing and suggest that this chemical may represent part of the biological basis of visual attention.

Neuroscientists at New York University have found that a naturally occurring chemical in the brain can enhance visual processing and suggest that this chemical may represent part of the biological basis of visual attention. While the chemical, acetylcholine (ACh), had been known to increase the activity of individual neurons, it had not previously been shown that this activity enhancement leads to enhanced vision.

To examine the effect of ACh, the researchers looked at the brain's nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR), to which ACh binds to stimulate neural activity. Nicotinic receptors are named for the fact that they also bind nicotine--the addictive chemical in cigarettes.

ACh is a neurotransmitter--a chemical used to relay, amplify, and modulate signals between neurons and between neurons and other cells. Previous scholarship had shown that ACh enhances attention, in rodents, but the precise mechanisms behind these enhancements are not understood.

In this study, the researchers found that information that comes into the brain's visual cortex can be selectively enhanced by mimicking the effects of ACh with nicotine, resulting in the ability of neurons to detect, and to signal, stimuli that, without ACh's enhancement, were below detection threshold.

"That's what attention does--it strengthens the signal you're interested in and that strengthening helps you filter out other things" said Anita Disney of NYU, "Our findings show that acetylcholine has the ability to turn up the volume on visual activity, just like attention does."

Disney added that the study sheds additional light on the function of our cholinergic system--a system of nerve cells dependent on ACh as their neurotransmitters. In Alzheimer's patients, the cells in the cholinergic system have been damaged.

The findings appear in the latest issue of the journal Neuron. The study's lead author, Anita Disney, is a post-doctoral fellow at NYU's Center for Neural Science (CNS). The other authors are Chiye Aoki and Michael J. Hawken, both faculty members at CNS.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

New York University. "Naturally Occurring Chemical In Brain Enhances Visual Processing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071121145018.htm>.
New York University. (2007, November 24). Naturally Occurring Chemical In Brain Enhances Visual Processing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071121145018.htm
New York University. "Naturally Occurring Chemical In Brain Enhances Visual Processing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071121145018.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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