Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Measuring attention to detail

02.04.2012
Human attention to a particular portion of an image alters the way the brain processes visual cortex responses to that image
Our ability to ignore some, but not other stimuli, allows us to focus our attention and improve our performance on a specific task. The ability to respond to visual stimuli during a visual task hinges on altered brain processing of responses within the visual cortex at the back of the brain, where visual information is first received from the eyes. How this occurs was recently demonstrated by an international team of researchers led by Justin Gardner at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Wako.

In a contrast discrimination task, the researchers showed three observers a stimulus of a group of four circles, each containing grey and white bars that created stripes of different contrasts. After a short pause, the researchers showed the circles again, but the contrast within one of the circles was different. The observers were instructed to choose which group of circles contained the higher contrast.

In ’focal cue trials’, an arrow directed the observers’ attention to a particular circle. In ‘distributed cue’ trials’, four arrows directed their attention diffusely, across all four circles. Gardner and colleagues found that the observers’ performance was better in the focal cue trials.
Using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, the research team was able to map the precise location within the visual cortex that was activated by the visual information within each of the four circles. During the contrast discrimination task, Gardner and colleagues could therefore measure the observers’ visual cortex activity elicited by the stimuli. In this way, they could correlate brain activity in the visual cortex with the observers’ attention and their choice of contrasting circles.

Visual cortex responses tended to be largest when the observers were paying attention to a particular target circle, and smallest when they were ignoring a circle. The researchers determined that the largest visual cortex responses to the stimuli guided the eventual choice of each observer, leading to enhanced performance on the visual task.
“We used computational modeling to test various hypotheses about how attention affects brain processing of visual information to improve behavioral performance,” explains Gardner. “We concluded that the observers’ attention causes their brains to select the largest cortical response to guide contrast choice, since we found that an ‘efficient selection’ model best explained the behavioral and fMRI data,” he says.

If the findings extend to other senses, such as hearing, researchers may begin to understand how humans make sense of a perceptually cluttered world.

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Gardner Research Unit, RIKEN Brain Science Institute

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.riken.jp
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>