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MRI study sheds new light on attention processes

Researchers have determined how circuits in the frontal lobe of the brain work together to keep attention on track and minimize errors, a finding that could hold keys to a better understanding of attention disorders. The research appeared earlier this year in the journal Science.

"We were able to show in our functional MRI study that the brain is especially sensitive to states when it is being pulled toward making more than one response at a time, and that it uses these states to identify near misses as well as actual errors," said Cameron S. Carter, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center and senior author of the Science article.

"We showed that one region of the frontal lobes detects conflicting responses, and another region then responds by ramping up attention. Our study showed in considerable detail how these two regions work together to keep attention on track and minimize error rates."

The new insights could lead to better understanding and improved treatments for disorders of attention, such as attention-deficit disorder and schizophrenia, Carter said.


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