Your Brain: Like a Radio?


Brain Filters Distractions

Your Brain: Like a Radio?

In November, researchers at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for the Biology of Memory at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) released the findings of their recent study, which reports on a mechanism in the brain that filters out distracting thoughts in order to focus on a single piece of information. This mechanism, comparable to the functioning of a radio, allows your brain’s nerve cells to “tune in” to the right station to get the information needed without being bombarded by a multitude of other thoughts. Researcher Laura Colgin and colleagues found that slow and fast gamma waves came from different areas of the brain, leading them to believe that they act like “carrier waves” which transmit information from one brain region to another. The findings also indicated that different frequencies were used for different functions, with lower frequencies used to transmit memories, and higher frequencies used to convey present experiences. While our brain cells can switch their activity to tune in to slow or fast waves, it seems that they cannot tune in to both at the same time, which is what allows us to focus on one thing without being overwhelmed by too much information. Edvard Moser, director of the Kavli Institue for Systems Neuroscience, says, “The classical view has been that signaling inside the brain is hardwired… our results suggest that the brain is a lot more flexible.”

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This article appeared in the SPRING 2010 ISSUE, Click Here to Order

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How does this relate to human potential?

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