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Four World Nodes for Brain Networks of Attention and Awareness

Final Report Summary - COGNITIVEFOCUS (Four World Nodes for Brain Networks of Attention and Awareness)

A Group of cognitive neuroscience Laboratories join forces to advance scientific knowledge on cognition through a series of collaborative actions centred on information sharing and transfer through sustained cooperation. The project aims at realizing a high-level researchers’ exchange and networking activities in cognitive neuroscience in health and disease. The research group has four Nodes: University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK), Trinity College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland), Queensland Brain Institute (Brisbane, Australia) and Monash University (Melbourne, Australia).
The topic to jointly investigate is the exploration of the mechanisms of human attention in healthy people and in those with disorders or brain injury. Attention is crucial in coordinating cognitive functions, and its relationship with consciousness and awareness, scarcely studied, is benefitting of combined efforts from the Nodes looking at the way this function of the brain works, both in normal participants and patients with brain disorders. The staff exchange has provided a very efficient opportunity to promote joint publications and to exploit the complementary expertise. The scientists in the Network have exchanged knowledge and were trained by using Workshops (to evaluate progress of the Network and set up new research lines), Seminars (training on specific topics), Visits (to exchange concrete methods and analysis techniques) and Experiments (research trips for collaborative experiments that would integrate expertise of several Nodes) as common coins for the integration of different areas of expertise in one common shared network. The joint experiments using techniques of brain imaging, brain stimulation and behavioural analysis allow for the test of specific hypotheses about how attention and awareness interact. Some of the results of these investigations highlight the need for focused attention for increasing the performance in both simple and complex everyday tasks, the understanding of some of the mechanisms underlying attentional lapses, conscious and unconscious mistakes, and the possible interventions that could be explored in both health and disease.
The research exchange has produced several scientific manuscripts and reports that are either under submission or in final stages of preparation. The project is embedded in and linked with several international research projects and coordinated by scientists that have been collaborating intermittently for 20 years. We plan dissemination events with policy makers both in Europe and Australia after the end of the Project which will provide the respective communities with essential material for informed decisions on disorders of attention such as ADHD, Alzheimer, traumatic brain injury, and hypoxic/anoxic brain injury.