A real attention grabber

Dec 02, 2007

The person you’re speaking with may be looking at you, but are they really paying attention? Or has the person covertly shifted their attention, without moving their eyes? Dr. Brian Corneil, of the Centre for Brain and Mind at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada has found a way of actually measuring covert attention.

His research “Neuromuscular consequences of reflexive covert orienting” is posted on the Advance Online Publication of Nature Neuroscience.

“Our results demonstrate for the first time that covert attention can be measured in real-time via recordings of muscle activity in the neck,” says Corneil, an assistant professor of physiology & pharmacology and psychology.

“This finding may fundamentally change how attention is measured, grounding it in an objective and straightforward technique.”

Until now, measuring attention was based on indirect measures of changes in reaction time, or stimulus detection. In furthering our understanding of how the brain works, Corneil has discovered that neck muscles are recruited during covert orienting, even in the absence of eye movements. This finding could help in assessing the effectiveness of therapies for stroke or other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Source: University of Western Ontario

Explore further: Dual role: Key cell division proteins also power up mitochondria

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

2 hours ago

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

5 hours ago

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

17 hours ago

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

Building 'smart' cell-based therapies

17 hours ago

A Northwestern University synthetic biology team has created a new technology for modifying human cells to create programmable therapeutics that could travel the body and selectively target cancer and other ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

LADEE mission ends with planned lunar impact

(Phys.org) —Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface ...

A full-spectrum Mars simulation in a box

There are many reasons why Mars excels at destroying expensive equipment. For one thing, its entire surface is made of partially-magnetized dust. For another, Mars possesses just enough atmosphere so that ...