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:6/22/2016)... ANGELES , June 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... identity management and verification solutions, has partnered ... edge software solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service ... provides products that add functional enhancements ... partnership provides corporations and venues with an ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... 2016 The global ... reach USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according to ... Technological proliferation and increasing demand in commercial buildings, ... drive the market growth.      (Logo: ... development of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric authentication ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... , June 7, 2016  Syngrafii Inc. ... a business relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented ... branch project. This collaboration will result in greater ... the credit union, while maintaining existing document workflow ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160606/375871LOGO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... Rolf K. Hoffmann, former senior vice ... University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School effective June 27. , ... with a focus on the school’s international efforts, leading classes and participating in ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Epic Sciences unveiled a liquid ... to PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination deficiency ... new test has already been incorporated into numerous ... types. Over 230 clinical trials are ... including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. Drugs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, one of the leading ... UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which has been manufacturing high ... its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such fine stores as Whole ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital ... Sports Association to serve as their official health ... Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training ... association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... Sports Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality ...
Breaking Biology Technology: