Selective Attention

Investigation of attentional modulation via fronto-thalamic networks
2007 Seed Grant
Daniel Llano, M.D., Ph.D
The University of Chicago

Dr. Llano investigates the way that the brain controls selective attention. For example, when chatting at a cocktail party, you can immediately shift your focus to another part of the room if you hear your name mentioned. Unfortunately, in many disorders ofthe brain, the ability to shift and focus our attention in impaired. Dr. Llano’s research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to look at specific areas of the brain that are activated during attentional tasks. It is hoped that this work will lead to a greater understanding of how these mechanisms break down in disease, and ultimately, how to repair them.
The proposed work is designed to better understand brain mechanisms of attention. The results of this work have the potential to assist in the development ofbetter strategies in the treatment of attentional disorders. Furthermore, in the new era of brain-machine interfaces, the current work will assist in understanding how to integrate neuroprosthetic devices into the normal attentional systems of the brain. In addition, since this work uses anovel approach to study areas ofthe brain not often studied in brain imaging research, it is hoped that this work will provide a new basis to approach other cognitive processes, such as language and memory.

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