Ralf and Ian’s paper is published in Nature. In this study, we developed a task that divided attention between the vision and audition in the freely behaving mouse. This was a context-dependent, trial-by-trial sensory selection task, in which mice required prefrontal cortical (PFC) activity in order to select the appropriate stimulus. To make a long story short, we found that the PFC changed the sensitivity of the brain to incoming sensory stimuli (a neural substrate of attention) by biasing sensory thalamic rather than sensory cortical activity. What was also important is that we developed chloride photometry, an optical method to measure inhibition in the freely behaving animal. Through that we were able to observe that thalamic inhibition is the circuit mechanism by which this change in sensitivity (or gain) is achieved.

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Other Publications

NIH Publication: Study in mice shows how brain ignores distractions

Medical Express: Study reveals how brain multitasks

Medical Daily: Multitasking And The Human Brain: Prefrontal Cortex Determines Concentration Level During Multiple Activities