Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How to measure attention span of a fly: Implications for ADHD, autism in humans

Date:
January 26, 2010
Source:
Freie Universitaet Berlin
Summary:
An Australian-German team of scientists has found a way to measure the attention span of a fly. The findings could lead to further advances in the understanding of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism in humans.

Common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster).
Credit: iStockphoto

An Australian-German team of scientists at Freie Universität and the Queensland Brain Institute in Brisbane, Australia, has found a way to measure the attention span of a fly. The findings could lead to further advances in the understanding of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism in humans.

Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen at the Queensland Brain Institute in Brisbane and Dr. Björn Brembs at Freie Universität combined genetic techniques with brain recordings and behavioral testing. They found different mutations that either increase or decrease a fly's attention span.

Using the genetic fruit fly model, Drosophila melanogaster, van Swinderen found that a fly's level of distractibility is finely tuned to allow "normal" behavioral responses to a constantly changing environment. He said, "We now have the two ends of an attention spectrum in our model. We have a fly memory mutant that is hard to distract and another fly memory mutant that's too distractible. They both have the same result -- they don't learn well but for completely different reasons, not unlike human patients afflicted with autism and ADHD."

The fruit flies were fed methylphenidate, which is sold under the brand name Ritalin and is used to treat patients with ADHD. The researchers found the drug had similar effects on fruit flies as it did on people: it helped the distractible flies to pay attention to visual stimuli.

"It suggests there may be similar pathways in the brains of fruit flies and humans, which means we now have a simple reductionist model, with all the genetic tools that go along with it, to try to understand what exactly this drug is doing," according to van Swinderen.

Heisenberg fellow Brembs agrees: "These surprising parallels between insects and humans may point to a general, common functional organization of brains."

The research is reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Freie Universitaet Berlin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bruno van Swinderen, Björn Brembs. Attention-Like Deficit and Hyperactivity in a Drosophila Memory Mutant. Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 30 (3): 1003 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4516-09.2010

Cite This Page:

Freie Universitaet Berlin. "How to measure attention span of a fly: Implications for ADHD, autism in humans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126084127.htm>.
Freie Universitaet Berlin. (2010, January 26). How to measure attention span of a fly: Implications for ADHD, autism in humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126084127.htm
Freie Universitaet Berlin. "How to measure attention span of a fly: Implications for ADHD, autism in humans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126084127.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) — More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) 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:

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