November 4, 2011
When Our Neurones Remain Silent So That Our Performances May Improve
To be able to focus on the world, we need to turn a part of ourselves off for a short while, and this is precisely what our brain does
They demonstrate more specifically that when we need to concentrate, this network disrupts the activation of other specialized neurones when it is not deactivated enough. The results have just been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
A study carried out by a team at the Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences de Lyon (led by Tomas Ossandon and managed by Jean-Philippe Lachaux, Research Director at Inserm and Karim Jerbi, Research Leader at Inserm) has just revealed how this network interferes with our ability to pay attention, by assessing the activity of the human brain's default-mode network neurones on a millisecond scale for the first time ever, in collaboration with Philippe Kahane's epilepsy department in Grenoble.
The results unambiguously illustrate that whenever we look for an object in the area around us, the neurones of this default-mode network stop their activity. Yet, this interruption only lasts for the amount of time required to find the object: in less than a tenth of a second, after the object has been found, the default-mode network resumes its activity as before. And if our default-mode network is not sufficiently deactivated, then we will need more time to find the object. These results show that there is fierce competition for our attentional resources inside our brain which, when they are not used to actively analyse our sensorial environment, are instantaneously redirected towards more internal mental processes. The brain hates emptiness and never stays idle, even for a tenth of a second.
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