Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Waiting for a sign? Researchers find potential brain 'switch' for new behavior

Date:
May 21, 2013
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
You're standing near an airport luggage carousel and your bag emerges on the conveyor belt, prompting you to spring into action. How does your brain make the shift from passively waiting to taking action when your bag appears?

You're standing near an airport luggage carousel and your bag emerges on the conveyor belt, prompting you to spring into action. How does your brain make the shift from passively waiting to taking action when your bag appears?

Related Articles


A new study from investigators at the University of Michigan and Eli Lilly may reveal the brain's "switch" for new behavior. They measured levels of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is involved in attention and memory, while rats monitored a screen for a signal. At the end of each trial, the rat had to indicate if a signal had occurred.

Researchers noticed that if a signal occurred after a long period of monitoring or "non-signal" processing, there was a spike in acetylcholine in the rat's right prefrontal cortex. No such spike occurred for another signal occurring shortly afterwards.

"In other words, the increase in acetylcholine seemed to activate or 'switch on' the response to the signal, and to be unnecessary if that response was already activated," said Cindy Lustig, one of the study's senior authors and an associate professor in the U-M Department of Psychology.

The researchers repeated the study in humans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity, and also found a short increase in right prefrontal cortex activity for the first signal in a series.

To connect the findings between rats and humans, they measured changes in oxygen levels, similar to the changes that produce the fMRI signal, in the brains of rats performing the task.

They again found a response in the right prefrontal cortex that only occurred for the first signal in a series. A follow-up experiment showed that direct stimulation of brain tissue using drugs that target acetylcholine receptors could likewise produce these changes in brain oxygen.

Together, the studies' results provide some of the most direct evidence, so far, linking a specific neurotransmitter response to changes in brain activity in humans. The findings could guide the development of better treatments for disorders in which people have difficulty switching out of current behaviors and activating new ones. Repetitive behaviors associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism are the most obvious examples, and related mechanisms may underlie problems with preservative behavior in schizophrenia, dementia and aging.

The findings appear in the current issue of Journal of Neuroscience.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. W. M. Howe, A. S. Berry, J. Francois, G. Gilmour, J. M. Carp, M. Tricklebank, C. Lustig, M. Sarter. Prefrontal Cholinergic Mechanisms Instigating Shifts from Monitoring for Cues to Cue-Guided Performance: Converging Electrochemical and fMRI Evidence from Rats and Humans. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (20): 8742 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5809-12.2013

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Waiting for a sign? Researchers find potential brain 'switch' for new behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521121211.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2013, May 21). Waiting for a sign? Researchers find potential brain 'switch' for new behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521121211.htm
University of Michigan. "Waiting for a sign? Researchers find potential brain 'switch' for new behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521121211.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
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