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BrainFacts.org

Introduction

Every second, we are bombarded with information from the many sights and sounds around us. In order to keep the brain from becoming overwhelmed by the steady stream of data competing for attention, brain cells work together to sort and prioritize information. Human and animal studies are helping researchers piece together the calculations brain cells use to prioritize information in hopes of better understanding the many varieties of awareness and attention. Using live brain imaging and computer simulations, scientists are beginning to develop a greater understanding of how cells in various brain regions take information in, and how the brain uses this information to make decisions. This insight may one day lead to better diagnoses and treatment options for disorders marked by attention problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia.

Discoveries

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Despite the swanky name, the cocktail party problem has nothing to do with martinis and hors d’oeuvres. It’s a term scientists use to refer to the brain’s ability to tune in to a single voice.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
Decision-making is such a seamless process we’re usually unaware of it — until our choice results in unexpected consequences. Then we wonder, “Why did I choose that option?”
Source: The Kavli Foundation
Researchers are beginning to decipher what happens in our brains when we make decisions. Three experts describe the genesis of this cutting-edge field and potential practical applications of this research.
Source: Wellcome Trust
At New York University, Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Steve Fleming is exploring the neural basis of metacognition.

Awareness and Attention in the News

Source: WIRED
Date: 18 Nov 2014
More than 1,000 UK schoolchildren voted a book about optical illusions as the winner of this year’s Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize for science.
Source: WIRED
Date: 6 Oct 2014
A University of Pennsylvania research team studies the way people navigate through space and orient to their surroundings.
Source: Discovery News
Date: 10 June 2014
Research on rats suggests the path the brain takes to regain consciousness may be even more sophisticated than thought.
Read more about neuroscience core concepts for the U. S. National Science Education Standards.