Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Exploring the brain: New findings explain how eyes link to prefrontal cortex

Date:
June 24, 2014
Source:
Montana State University
Summary:
A research team has linked how our eyes actually see the world to neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The team studied saccadic eye movements -- those movements where the eye jumps from one point of focus to another -- in an effort to determine exactly how this happens without us being overcome by our brains processing too much visual information.

Noudoost has linked how our eyes actually see the world to neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
Credit: MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

An MSU assistant professor in neuroscience is part of a team that has made progress understanding how the brain processes visual information. In addition to adding to the basic understanding of brain function, the research may also have implications for understanding schizophrenia and attention deficit disorders.

Related Articles


MSU's Behrad Noudoost was a co-author with Marc Zirnsak and other neuroscientists from the Tirin Moore Lab at Stanford University in publishing a recent paper on the research in Nature, an international weekly journal for natural sciences.

Noudoost and the team studied saccadic eye movements -- those movements where the eye jumps from one point of focus to another -- in an effort to determine exactly how this happens without us being overcome by our brains processing too much visual information.

To introduce the study, Noudoost first gets his audience to think about eye movements at the most basic level. "Look in the mirror and stare at one eye," Noudoost said. "Then look at the other eye. We are essentially blind during eye movement as we cannot see our eyes move, even though we know they did."

According to Noudoost, scientists have been trying to learn exactly how the brain processes these visual stimuli during saccadic eye movement and this research offers new evidence that the prefrontal cortex of the brain is responsible for visual stability.

"Visual stability is what keeps our vision stable in spite of changing input. It is similar to the stabilizer button on a video camera," Noudoost said.

"We wanted to know what causes the brain to filter out un-necessary information when we shift our vision from one focal target to another," Noudoost said. "Without that filter the visual information would overwhelm us."

According to the scientists, the study offers evidence neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain start processing information in anticipation of where we are going to look before we ever do it, suggesting that selective processing might be the mechanism for visual stability.

Noudoost said this new information can help scientists better understand the underlying causes of problems such as dyslexia and attention deficit disorders.

According to Frances Lefcort, the head of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, the team's basic research may have implications for understanding a myriad of mental health issues.

"Schizophrenia and attention deficit disorders have been linked to visual stability, so the work Behrad is doing offers valuable knowledge to other scientists working in cognitive neuroscience," Lefcort said.

"Understanding how a healthy brain works is important in terms of knowing its impact on cognitive functions such as memory, learning and in this case attention," Noudoost said. "By exploring normal brain function, we can better understand what happens in someone with a mental illness."

According to Lefcort, Noudoost and neuroscience professor Charles Gray are strengthening MSU's contribution to the field of cognitive neuroscience.

"Behrad is an exquisitely trained neuroscientist. He offers students a viewpoint as both scientist and a physician," Lefcort said. "We are thrilled to have him and he has already brought new energy and is bolstering our impact on the growing field of brain research."

Noudoost joined MSU's Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience last summer from Stanford University and has already been awarded a $225,000 Whitehall Foundation grant for neuroscience. Whitehall Foundation grants are awarded to established scientists working in neurobiology.

"I am colorblind and I wanted to see the world as others could see it," Noudoost said explaining why he was first drawn into this type of research. "Although I still don't see the world in the same colors as everyone else, I am more amazed everyday by the brain."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Montana State University. The original article was written by Tanya Reinhardt. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marc Zirnsak, Nicholas A. Steinmetz, Behrad Noudoost, Kitty Z. Xu, Tirin Moore. Visual space is compressed in prefrontal cortex before eye movements. Nature, 2014; 507 (7493): 504 DOI: 10.1038/nature13149

Cite This Page:

Montana State University. "Exploring the brain: New findings explain how eyes link to prefrontal cortex." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140624093326.htm>.
Montana State University. (2014, June 24). Exploring the brain: New findings explain how eyes link to prefrontal cortex. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140624093326.htm
Montana State University. "Exploring the brain: New findings explain how eyes link to prefrontal cortex." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140624093326.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. 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