Gene Enhances Prefrontal Function at a Price

Studies of a gene that affects how efficiently the brain’s frontal lobes process information are revealing some untidy consequences of a tiny variation in its molecular structure and how it may increase susceptibility to schizophrenia. People with a common version of the gene associated with more efficient working memory and frontal lobe information processing may pay a penalty in adverse responses to amphetamine, in heightened anxiety and sensitivity to pain. Yet, another common version may slightly bias the brain toward a pattern of neurochemical activity associated with psychosis, report researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Researchers identify decision-making area of the brain

New research has provided the first neuro-imaging evidence that the brain’s frontal lobes play a critical role in planning and choosing actions. The research team has found that a small region in the frontal lobe of the human brain is selectively activated when an individual intends to make a particular action and not another. These findings help explain why individuals with frontal lobe damage sometimes act impulsively and often have problems making decisions.

‘Archirtecture of Attention’ identified

I’m sorry, what were you saying? I got distracted by this story from the American Psychological Association that says researchers have successfully mapped different aspects of attention to parts of the brain’s frontal lobes. Turns out that the once-monolithic concept of “attention” has at least three distinct processes that look to be functionally and anatomically different.