Navigation Links
The lopsided brain: Attention bias is shared by humans and birds

When it comes to the world laid before us, our mind's eye has a bias. For reasons that are not entirely clear, during some tasks humans have a tendency to devote more visual attention to the left side of the visual world than the right side, a phenomenon known as pseudoneglect. Researchers now report that pseudoneglect is not restricted to humans but is shared by birds, suggesting not only that brain structures thought to play a requisite role in pseudoneglect may not actually be essential for this phenomenon, but also that pseudoneglect may reflect evolutionary adaptations that allow animals to devote attention to multiple aspects of their environment.

The findings are reported in the May 24 issue of Current Biology by Bettina Diekamp (now at Johns Hopkins University) and colleagues at Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany; the University of Padova, Italy; and The University of Trieste, Italy.

It has been known for some time that human patients who have suffered injury to the brain's right hemisphere can experience a much more severe bias in their spatial attention--spatial hemineglect--in which the entire left side of the visual world seems nonexistent as the brain performs spatial tasks. In a classic example, a patient asked to draw a daisy can only manage to put petals on the right side of her drawing.

The more subtle leftward bias in attention present in healthy humans likely has to do with asymmetries in the wiring of the brain's attention in the two hemispheres; the new finding in birds offers some insight into how and why this might be.

In the new work, researchers tested two bird species, the domestic chick and the pigeon, for their performance on a task in which they were allowed to freely peck at grains of food that were spread evenly in an area before them. Though the birds' bodies were positioned at the midline of the search area, both chicks and pigeons showed a considerable leftward bias in pecking. The experiment is similar in concept to those that reveal pseudoneglect in humans--so-called cancellation tasks in which subjects are asked to "cancel-out" evenly distributed visual targets on a sheet of paper placed before them.

The finding that birds also exhibit spatial pseudoneglect is somewhat surprising, given that birds lack a corpus collosum, the structure in human brains that is thought to facilitate rapid communication between the two hemispheres. In the past, such communication via the corpus collosum has been thought to form the basis for asymmetries in human spatial attention, but the new observations suggest that this view warrants reconsideration.

It isn't clear why humans or birds should benefit from biased spatial attention, but past work has suggested that brain organization underlying attention asymmetries may offer benefits in spatial learning and in performing simultaneous spatial tasks, such as looking for food while being vigilant for predators.

The researchers include Bettina Diekamp and Onur Güntürkün of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany; Lucia Regolin of University of Padova, Italy; and Giorgio Vallortigara of the University of Trieste, Italy.

Bettina Diekamp, Lucia Regolin, Onur Güntürkün and Giorgio Vallortigara: "A left-sided visuospatial bias in birds." Current Biology, Vol. 15, R372–R373, May 24, 2005. http://www.current-biology.com


'"/>

Source:Cell Press


Related biology news :

1. Loves all in the brain: fMRI study shows strong, lateralized reward, not sex, drive
2. Attention shoppers: Researchers find neurons that encode the value of different goods
3. Ancient olfaction protein is shared by many bugs, offering new pest control target
4. A new study examines how shared pathogens affect host populations
5. Bird flu -- Call for antiviral drugs to be shared
6. Yale researchers identify molecule for detecting parasitic infection in humans
7. Friendly bacteria in humans may protect against HIV
8. Oldest cranial, dental and postcranial fossils of early modern European humans confirmed
9. Retrovirus struck ancestors of chimpanzees and gorillas millions of years ago, but did not affect ancestral humans
10. UI researcher studies deafness in fruit flies, humans
11. Chickadees can help humans get their bearings
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:3/28/2017)... , March 28, 2017 The ... Hardware (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, ... Region - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... 2016 and is projected to reach USD 75.64 Billion ... and 2022. The base year considered for the study ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... 24, 2017 The Controller General of Immigration from ... Abdulla Algeen have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the ... Continue Reading ... ... Controller Abdulla Algeen (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... The report "Gesture Recognition and Touchless Sensing Market by Technology (Touch-based ... to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be worth USD ... 2022. Continue Reading ... ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , Oct. ... Cancer Research, London (ICR) and University ... SKY92, SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma ... MUK nine . The University of Leeds ... partly funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform the ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, Lajollacooks4u, has ... The bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, appeal to ... period. , It will also expand its service offering from its signature gourmet cooking ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... 10, 2017 International research firm Parks Associates announced ... at the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 in ... residential home security market and how smart safety and security products impact ... Parks Associates: Smart Home ... "The residential security market has ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... DIEGO , Oct. 9, 2017  BioTech ... biological mechanism by which its ProCell stem cell ... critical limb ischemia.  The Company, demonstrated that treatment ... amount of limbs saved as compared to standard ... the molecule HGF resulted in reduction of therapeutic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: