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Unstrange Phenomena

30 May 2009

Brain: Synchronized Brain Waves Focus Our Attention



From Denny: From the wonderful site Wired Science comes another interesting article about how the brain focuses our attention. Researchers are just now beginning to find out how our brain does it.

"Separate brain regions firing in unison may be what keeps us focused on important things while we ignore distractions.

A deluge of visual information hits our eyes every second, yet we’re able to focus on the minuscule fraction that’s relevant to our goals. When we try to find our way through an unfamiliar area of town, for example, we manage to ignore the foliage, litter and strolling pedestrians, and focus our attention on the street signs.

Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered that the brain’s control center syncs up to its visual center with high-frequency brain waves, directing attention to select features of the visual world.

“It’s been known that the prefrontal cortex plays an important role in focusing our attention, but the mystery was how,” said neuroscientist Robert Desimone, who led the study, published in Science Friday. “Now we have some insight into how it has that focusing role — through this synchrony with our sensory systems.”

For the rest of this interesting article on the latest about our brain's ability to focus and how this can impact research and understanding of problems like ADD, go here.

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