6 April 2017

10 Million for Research into Attention and Impulsivity


The Lundbeck Foundation has just granted DKK 10 million to Professor Ulrik Gether from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen. By gathering experts in basic neurobiology, advanced animal behaviour and psychology he seeks to expand our knowledge of attention and impulsivity.

Professor at the Center for Neuroscience (CNS) Ulrik Gether has just received a grant of DKK 10 million from the Lundbeck Foundation. The grant will be used to establish a team of experts in basic neuroscience, advanced animal behaviour and cognitive psychology for a new joint project. The project aims to identify the signalling mechanisms in the brain that determine our ability to be attentive and control impulsivity, respectively. The researchers wish to correlate human psychological functions and nerve cell signalling measured in mice, and to study how these respond to drugs used in the treatment of ADHD, among others. 

The group will be focussing on the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline. ‘We know that they play a main role in attention and impulsivity, but we do not know how they interact and control these processes’, says Ulrik Gether. 

The group will in its work apply a model for human attention, the so-called Theory of Visual Attention, developed by psychologists at the University of Copenhagen, to an animal behaviour model called 5-choice serial reaction time task developed by co-applicant and Brain Prize recipient Professor Trevor Robbins from Cambridge University. In addition, the researchers will apply new methods, which make it possible to identify precisely the involved nerve paths.

‘Attention and impulsivity represent basic psychological functions of vital importance to our interaction with our surroundings. Nevertheless, there is still a great gap between our psychological understanding of attention, impulsivity and basic signalling mechanisms in the brain. With this grant we hope to be able to reduce that gap’, Ulrik Gether says about the importance of the grant for future research.

He expects the project to result in a new, translational understanding of the biology behind attention and impulsivity and thus an understanding of disorders such as ADHD and the treatment hereof.

‘The Lundbeck Foundation focuses on funding research that improves our basic understanding of the brain and how it works. And we wish to support international collaboration between excellent researchers. This project clearly meets both of these objectives, and we look forward to following the research and the results that will result from it’, says Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation Anne-Marie Engel.

Ulrik Gether, email: gether@sund.ku.dk, phone: +45 23 84 00 89, mobile: +45 28 75 75 48