Ritalin helps people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder concentrate. But it stimulates the entire brain, causing side effects such as insomnia.
Earl K. Miller, associate director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and Timothy Buschman, a grad student in brain and cognitive sciences, hope that a better understanding of how attention works could lead to drugs targeting the brain regions where ADHD symptoms arise. They recently described their work, which suggests that two different brain regions control two different kinds of attention, in Science.
Miller and Buschman monitored electrical activity in the parietal and frontal cortices of monkeys performing visual tasks designed to elicit the two kinds of attention: automatic and willful. Monkeys watching a screen searched for a green rectangle. To test for automatic attention, the researchers put the green rectangle in a field of red rectangles, to make it pop out at the monkeys quickly. In images testing for willful attention, the green rectangle had to be distinguished more carefully from an array of multicolored rectangles.
Their results suggest that the frontal cortex is responsible for willful attention and the parietal cortex for automatic. Other researchers had looked at the cortices separately and found that both seemed to be involved with attention. The Picower researchers were the first to monitor both concurrently and to distinguish their roles in the two kinds of attention. They plan to test their findings in healthy people and those with ADHD.
The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus
The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.
Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free
Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3
Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging
The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.
The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images
Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.