Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Filters that reduce ‘brain clutter’ identified

Date:
April 19, 2011
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Until now, it has been assumed that people with conditions like ADHD, Tourette syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia -- all of whom characteristically report symptoms of "brain clutter" -- may suffer from anomalies in the brain's prefrontal cortex. But a researcher has brought new hope to these patients. He believes the key to the "brain clutter" and impulsivity shown by individuals with dysfunctional prefrontal cortices lies in a malfunction of a specific type of brain cell.

Colored stimuli shown to animals during trials. The area shaded in red represents the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of the brain.
Credit: Therese Lennert

Until now, it has been assumed that people with conditions like ADHD, Tourette syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia -- all of whom characteristically report symptoms of "brain clutter" -- may suffer from anomalies in the brain's prefrontal cortex.

Damage to this brain region is often associated with failure to focus on relevant things, loss of inhibitions, impulsivity and various kinds of inappropriate behaviour. So far, exactly what makes the prefrontal cortex so essential to these aspects of behaviour has remained elusive, hampering attempts to develop tools for diagnosing and treating these patients.

But new research by Julio Martinez-Trujillo, a professor in McGill University's Department of Physiology and Canada Research Chair in Visual Neuroscience, has brought new hope to these patients. He believes the key to the "brain clutter" and impulsivity shown by individuals with dysfunctional prefrontal cortices lies in a malfunction of a specific type of brain cell. Martinez-Trujilo and his team have identified neurons in the dorsolateral sub-region of the primate prefrontal cortex that selectively filter out important from unimportant visual information. The key to the normal functioning of these "filter neurons" is their ability to, in the presence of visual clutter, selectively and strongly inhibit the unimportant information, giving the rest of the brain access to what is relevant.

"Contrary to common beliefs, the brain has a limited processing capacity. It can only effectively process about one per cent of the visual information that it takes in," Martinez-Trujilo said. "This means that the neurons responsible for perceiving objects and programming actions must constantly compete with one another to access the important information.

"What we found when we looked at the behaviour of the neurons in the prefrontal cortex, was that an animal's ability to successfully accomplish a single action in the presence of visual clutter, was dictated by how well these units suppressed distracting information."

These results could be highly relevant for identifying the causes and improving the diagnosis and treatments of a wide range of mental disorders including ADHD and schizophrenia.

The research was conducted by Therese Lennert, a PhD student who holds a Vanier Scholarship, and it was funded by the Canada Research Chair program, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), EJLB Foundation, and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Therese Lennert, Julio Martinez-Trujillo. Strength of Response Suppression to Distracter Stimuli Determines Attentional-Filtering Performance in Primate Prefrontal Neurons. Neuron, Volume 70, Issue 1, 141-152, 14 April 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.02.041

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Filters that reduce ‘brain clutter’ identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110419163211.htm>.
McGill University. (2011, April 19). Filters that reduce ‘brain clutter’ identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110419163211.htm
McGill University. "Filters that reduce ‘brain clutter’ identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110419163211.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. 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:
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