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New Insights on Brain’s Internal Wiring

New Knowledge on Brain's Internal Wiring Emerging research suggests a wiring diagram that shows how the brain pays attention to visual, cognitive, sensory, and motor cues.

Researchers from the University of Utah believe the knowledge will provide a critical foundation for the study of abnormalities in attention that can be seen in many brain disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder.

“This study is the first of its kind to show how the brain switches attention from one feature to the next,” says lead researcher Jeffery S. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., University of Utah assistant professor of radiology.

Anderson and his team used MRI to study a part of the brain known as the intraparietal sulcus.

“The brain is organized into territories, sort of like a map of Europe. There are visual regions, regions that process sound and areas that process sensory and motor information. In between all these areas is the intraparietal sulcus, which is known to be a key area for processing attention,” Anderson says.

“We discovered that the intraparietal sulcus contains a miniature map of all of these territories. We also found an organized pattern for how control regions of the brain connect to this map in the intraparietal sulcus. These connections help our brain switch its attention from one thing to another.”

In addition, scientists discovered that this miniature map of all the things one can pay attention to is reproduced in at least 13 other places in the brain. They found connections between these duplicate maps and the intraparietal sulcus.

Each copy appears to do something different with the information. For instance, one map processes eye movements while another processes analytical information.

This map of the world that allows us to pay attention may be a fundamental building block for how information is represented in the brain.

“The research uncovers how we can shift our attention to different things with precision,” says Anderson. “It’s a big step in understanding how we organize information.

“Furthermore, it has important implications for disease. There are several diseases or disorders where attention processing is off, such as autism, attention deficit disorder, and schizophrenia, among others. This research gives us the information to test theories and see what is abnormal. When we know what is wrong, we can talk about strategies for treatment or intervention.”

Source: University of Utah

New Insights on Brain’s Internal Wiring

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). New Insights on Brain’s Internal Wiring. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/03/new-insights-on-brains-internal-wiring/20500.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.