Date August 30, 2016
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Brain scientists share in grant to study attention

Three Brown University faculty members have teamed up with colleagues at three other universities on a $6 million grant to study the neuroscience of attention.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] —With a new $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation, 14 scientists at four universities including Brown will join forces to create a unified model of attention from the scale of individual neurons to vast brain circuits.

Three Brown University faculty members, David Sheinberg, Barry Connors and Theresa Desrochers, will receive $1.4 million of the funding over the four year life of the grant.

“This is a multiproject ‘collaborative’ grant, so we'll participate in all aspects,” said Sheinberg, professor of neuroscience and co-principal investigator on the grant led by Peter Tse of Dartmouth College. “This includes research projects between labs focusing on both circuit level physiology and systems level processing in animal models and people.”

The other participating institutions are Montana State University and the University of Nevada at Reno.

“Paying attention is central to almost everything we consciously do in life,” Tse said in a Dartmouth press release. “Understanding the brain systems that afford us the ability to attend will help us understand cases where those systems are damaged, and also understand how best to foster attentional ability in normally functioning brains. As far as I know, we will be the only consortium of scientists tackling this question.”

As they work the scientists will pay specific attention to engaging young minds in their effort.

“There is a large outreach component, wherein we'll support both undergraduates and high school students from around the area and from the partner institution regions,” Sheinberg said.