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Our latest research findings support a newly emerging model of how the brain focuses attention on a particular task, using neurons in the thalamic reticular nucleus as a switchboard to control the amount of information the brain receives, limiting and filtering out sensory information that we don't want to pay attention to," says senior study investigator and neuroscientist Michael Halassa, MD, PhD.
In normal mice, a compound known to block the benzodiazepine-binding site weakened these same receptors' inhibitory activity in the thalamic reticular nucleus, even in the absence of any administered benzodiazepines.
Halassa recently published a study August 14 in Cell in which he recorded the activity of individual nerve cells in a small part of the brain called the thalamic reticular nucleus that works as a "switchboard," directing signals coming from the outside world or internal memories.