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The interplay of visual attention and response inhibition

English title The interplay of visual attention and response inhibition
Applicant Nyffeler Thomas
Number 169789
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Zentrum für Neurologie und Neurorehabilitation Luzerner Kantonsspital
Institution of higher education Luzerner Kantonsspital - LUKS
Main discipline Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Start/End 01.03.2017 - 29.02.2020
Approved amount 387'326.00
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Keywords (5)

Stroke; Neglect; TMS; Executive functions; Attentional network

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Im Alltag können wir entscheiden, ob wir Gegenstände mit unseren Augen betrachten wollen oder nicht. In dem Projekt werden wir zwei neuronale Netzwerke untersuchen, die in diese Steuerung involviert sind: das der visuellen Aufmerksamkeit und das der Hemmung.
Lay summary
Inhalt und Ziele des Forschungsprojekts 

Patient/-innen mit einem Hirnschlag der rechten Hirnhälfte verlieren oft die Fähigkeit, ihre Aufmerksamkeit in die linke Raumhälfte zu richten, sie haben eine Halbseitenvernachlässigung, auch Neglekt genannt. Diese Störung führt zu einer verminderten Selbstständigkeit im Alltag. Bei einigen dieser Patient/-innen fällt auf, dass sie mit ihrer Aufmerksamkeit haften bleiben und sich nicht Neuem zuwenden können. Bisherige Untersuchungen zeigen, dass zwei neuronale Netzwerke in ihrer Funktion gestört sind: ein grosses, mehrere Hirnregionen umfassendes Netzwerk, das die visuelle Aufmerksamkeit kontrolliert und ein kleines, im Stirnlappen lokalisiertes Netzwerk, das die Hemmung kontrolliert. 

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext des Forschungsprojekts 

Das Projekt hat zum Ziel, die Eigenschaften und gegenseitige Wechselwirkung der zwei neuronalen Netzwerke der visuellen Aufmerksamkeit und der Hemmung bei Gesunden und bei Patient/-innen mit einem Hirnschlag der rechten Hirnhälfte zu erforschen. Bei der Durchführung kommen Forschungsmethoden wie die transkranielle Magnetstimulation sowie moderne Bildanalysen mittels Magnetresonanztomographie zur Anwendung.
Das Projekt wird zum Verständnis der beiden neuronalen Netzwerke bei Gesunden beitragen und bei Patienten Rückschlüsse auf die Erholung ermöglichen.
 
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 29.09.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
140696 Motion and spatial neglect 01.07.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The present project aims to elucidate the interplay between visual attention and response inhibition in patients with focal brain lesions and in healthy subjects. Visual attention and response inhibition are functionally linked together and are essential for a successful behavior. For instance, we can shift our visual attention to an object or we can willfully inhibit to do so. On a neuronal level, the networks controlling visual attention and response inhibition also partly overlap. For instance, frontal areas are part of both the visual attentional network and the response inhibition network. Up to now, there is sparse knowledge concerning how both networks interact and influence each other. In patients with a right-hemispheric stroke affecting the visual attention network, the deployment of visual attention towards the contralesional space is often impaired, resulting in left visual neglect. When frontal areas of the response inhibition network are also damaged, perseverative behavior and disinhibition can additionally occur. In some instances, however, neglect patients show perseverative behavior and disinhibition solely due to a lesion of the attention network that leaves frontal areas structurally intact. This suggests that a damage to the visual attention network can also have detrimental remote effects on the response inhibition network, possibly due to functionally disrupted inter- and intra-hemispheric cortical communication. Indeed, intra-hemispheric changes in functional connectivity between the attention network and the frontal network, largely confined to the right hemisphere, were recently found in neglect patients. Our project aims to further clarify the interplay between visual attention and response inhibition by means of three studies. In the first, observational study, we aim to include a large, unselected sample of patients with a first-ever right-hemispheric stroke. We will use a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological and oculomotor tasks to evaluate neglect, perseverative behavior, and disinhibition. We will correlate neuropsychological performance and eye movement data, in order to investigate how visual neglect interacts with perseverative behavior and disinhibition. We also perform voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM) in order to characterize the underlying neural structures involved in visual attention and response inhibition. In the second, interventional study using oculomotor tasks, we will examine patients with a first-ever right-hemispheric stroke who show left sided neglect, perseverative behavior, and disinhibition. We will apply inhibitory continuous theta burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS) over key areas of the contralesional visual attention network in order to reduce neglect symptoms. We will then assess whether the modulation of the activity of these areas also improves response inhibition. In the third, interventional study, administering oculomotor tasks to healthy subjects, we will transiently induce a left-sided neglect-like oculomotor behavior by applying inhibitory cTBS over key areas of the right visual attention network. We will then investigate whether this interference approach on attentional areas also influences response inhibition. The relevance of our project is twofold. First, the project will shed light on the interactions between two crucial cognitive functions, and between the networks subtending their control in the human brain. Second, by clarifying how and to which degree perseverative behavior and disinhibition depend on visual neglect, the project will potentially allow to develop new therapeutic approaches.
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