Mikael Palner receives Weimann stipend

Congratulations to NRU junior group leader Mikael Palner who has received 2 years full stipend from the Weimann Foundation for the project "Please Focus! – Dopamine in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder".

The stipend is the so-called "Købmand i Odense Johann og Hanne Weimann født Seedorffs Legat". An abstract from Mikael's project is given below.

The ability to maintain attention over an extended time is considered the key to success. But successful living requires a careful balance between the ability to maintain and switch tasks; this ability is compromised in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. The neurotransmitter dopamine is implicated in attention; but, the exact role is unresolved. We have developed a novel computational model that indicates that dopamine regulates motivation via the ability to maintain attention. The model predicts that dopamine is regulated during effort and that high dopamine activity inhibits task switching. We will test this hypothesis in the behaving rat; locally in the ventral striatum using real-time in vivo fast-scan-cyclic-voltammetry to measure dopamine and glucose levels and using 18F-fluoro-deoxy-glucose to map the neuronal activity in the whole brain. The rat is challenged to abort a demanding task in favor of an easy task; the computer model predicts that increase dopamine in the ventral striatum will lead to reduced task switching. Computer models with high face and predictive validity are essential in order to understand and predict responses of the brain during task-attention and flexibility. These experiments will pave the way for studies of task-attention and flexibility in people.