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The Claustrum: A Circuit Hub for Attention

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CLAUSTRUM (The Claustrum: A Circuit Hub for Attention)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

Our ERC-funded research aims to decipher the function of the claustrum, an intriguing and enigmatic brain structure.
To pay attention, our brain needs to constantly perform two complementary tasks: 1) Highlight relevant information & 2) Tune out information that is irrelevant. This fundamental function of the brain is disrupted in the vast segment of society suffering from Attention Deficit DIsorders (ADD) and is therefore of high relevance for society.
Furthermore, drug addiction involves increased attention to drug-associated cues, a process termed 'incentive salience', whereby the drive to consume drugs is triggered by people, location, and paraphernalia previously associated with the drug.
We propose that the claustrum supports these fundamental functions of the brain. Our working hypothesis is that the claustrum receives a definition of the priorities of attention from frontal regions in the brain, and through its’ broad, brain-wide connectivity, implements the allocation of attention. Thus, the majority of the activity of the claustrum is expected to be allocated to inhibition of the representation of irrelevant information in the brain, a feature we call ‘resilience to distraction’.
Our objective is to identify the activity patterns of the claustrum and figure out how it functions to support selective attention and resilience to distraction.
In addition, we are interested in addressing the possibility that the claustrum is involved in drug addiction.
Identifying how the claustrum may be invovled in attention and addiction is expected to allow the development of novel diagnostic andd therapeutic approaches to deal with the prevalent disturbances found in society in relation to ADD and addiction.

Our work is largely successful, as we have progressed to publish work implementing the claustrum in attention and mouse models of drug addiction. We have also (in collaboration with a neighboring lab) developed an approach for automated segmentation of the claustrum in human MRI, which may support the development of diagnostic approaches.

We are proceeding with our work, and look forward to sharing additional exciting developments in the near future.
Our work is largely successful, as we have progressed to publish work implementing the claustrum in attention and mouse models of drug addiction. We have also (in collaboration with a neighboring lab) developed an approach for automated segmentation of the claustrum in human MRI, which may support the development of diagnostic approaches.

We are proceeding with our work, and look forward to sharing additional exciting developments in the near future.
We have been defining the forefront of the claustrum field, proposing the working hypotheses that have been accepted by the field, as well as developing the technical approaches that enable investigation of the claustrum. Furthermore, we have extended our work from mice to humans, developing a collaborative effort to segment the claustrum in human MRI data.
We anticipate to continue developing these avenues, providing a description of the natural activity patterns of differential claustrum networks, their engagement in attention-demanding tasks, and the impact of their manipulation on mice behavior (and sleep patterns). In addition, we are developing a project associating the claustrum with opiate addiction, which we believe could be of high relevance to human health.
Graphic abstract describing the role of the claustrum in attention
Graphic abstract describing the role of the claustrum in reward and addiction