Meditation Disorders: The IISc team is studying ‘how regions of the brain contribute to attention’


Bengaluru: A team led by Prof. Sreedharan Devarajan, who is studying areas and mechanisms of the brain that mediate human attention to develop therapies for the treatment of attention disorders, in his recent work, has identified specific regions of the brain – both the neocortex (outermost layer of the brain) as well as areas of the brain. Deep middle brain – contributes to attention.
Devarajan is currently an Associate Professor at Center Four Neuroscience And associate faculty in computer science and automation at IISc. Their group showed that human participants with asymmetrical wiring between the midbrain and the cortical hemisphere also showed marked asymmetry in the way they noticed.
Receiving the Golden Jubilee Fellowship awarded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) for 2021, Devarajan says that the human brain has a remarkable ability to focus on the important things and places of our world by ignoring irrelevant matters.
Although meditation has been studied behaviorally for decades, little is known about how meditation works in the brain. Researchers say that “… undetected regions include identifying areas of the brain that allow us to focus on specific objects, regions of the brain that suppress irrelevant information, and brain processes that interfere with attention disorders,” the researchers say. .
The group employs a combination of sophisticated, non-invasive technologies – including functional and Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI / dMRI), Electro-encephalography (EEG), And Trans-magnetic and electrical stimulation (TMS / TES) – To record and disrupt the activity of the human brain in a targeted manner.
In his recent work, Devaraja has identified how specific regions of the brain – both the neocortex (the outermost layer of the brain) as well as the deep midbrain – contribute to attention. In another recent study, DST said, the group showed that irregular activity in a specific region in the neocortex (parietal cortex) could affect participants’ ability to pay attention.
To analyze and simulate how meditation works in the brain, they also developed detailed mathematical and computational (deep learning) models of the neocortex and midbrain. The research has been published in various prestigious journals, including PLOS Computational Biology.
“While these studies by our group and others have indicated the role of some brain areas of meditation, very few have established these links directly in practice. As part of the Golden Jubilee Fellowship, our lab will try to understand the” causal “method of mindfulness meditation. We will follow a three-pronged approach, ”says Devarajan.
First, the group will track changes in structure, activity, and association between specific brain regions (“neuroplasticity”) while participants are learning to pay attention, DST added, adding that there may be key effects for measuring such neuroplastic changes in the brain. Testing the effectiveness of interventions for managing attention disorders in children and adults.
“Second, they will develop brain-machine interface techniques that can be used to train participants to voluntarily control activity in attention-related brain regions (” neurofeedback “). This type of interface can be developed as a non-invasive tool for training attention span in healthy individuals as well as patients with attention disorders, “said DST.
After this, they will disrupt brain activity and recognize the role of attention to specific areas of the brain in real time with millisecond accuracy (“neurostimulation”). This technology can be adapted to clinical settings to target areas of the brain that are involved in attention deficit disorders, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD).
“Most likely, the research findings of this proposal will advance our basic understanding of the key principles that meditation works in the human brain and pave the way for developing rational strategies for the management and treatment of attention disorders,” Devrajan added.
All experiments will be conducted at the state-of-the-art JN ​​Tata National MRI facility at IISc, which includes a 3T (Siemens Prisma) MRI scanner with integrated MR-EEG and MR-TMS setup.

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