How the brain ignores distracting information to coordinate movements

LA JOLLA—As you read this article, touch receptors in your skin are sensing your environment. Your clothes and jewelry, the chair you’re sitting on, the computer keyboard or mobile device you’re using, even your fingers as they brush one another unintentionally—each touch activates collections of nerve cells. But, unless a stimulus is particularly unexpected or required to help you orient your own movements, your brain ignores many of these inputs.

Now, Salk researchers have discovered how neurons in a small area of the mammalian brain help filter distracting or disruptive signals—specifically from the hands—to coordinate dexterous movements. Their results, published in the journal Science on October 14, 2021, may hold lessons in how the brain filters other sensory information as well.

“These findings have implications not only for gaining a better understanding of how our nervous system interacts with the world, but also for teaching us how…
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