Do you remember playing dodge ball as a kid? Do you remember ducking and weaving as you tried to avoid the large rubber balls flying at you from every direction? Or how about hitting baseballs? How long did it take you to learn keep your eye on the ball? Neuroscientists describe our “ability to select and respond to one sensory stimulus in the presence of distractions” as “selective attention ”.
This ability is considered a higher level thought process and is found in primates, including humans. But’s not always easy, as you can see for yourself by watching this short video  on YouTube.
Recently, scientists  in Australia have discovered the first example of invertibrate brain cells capable of selective attention in, of all things, dragonflies.
Dragonflies are predators - they hunt for insects. And insects are often found in large groups, as anyone who’s been around mosquitoes can tell you.
According to their report : “The researchers placed a live dragonfly, chilled in a fridge, in front of a computer screen in order to track the insect's brain. The fly was exposed to a single object as well as multiple objects so as to study its reaction to the objects and compare them”.
They also measured neuron activity in the dragonfly’s brain. “They found that the dragonfly, when presented with more than one visual target, selected a particular target and avoided other targets as if they didn't exist.” In fact, Dr. Wiederman claims, “they get it right 97 percent of the time”. Click here  to see an example of how a dragonfly selectively “locks” onto it target.
97% is an phenominal success rate. By comparison, consider the baseball legend Ty Cobb. His career batting average, the best in baseball, is .366.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org  for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, September 4, 11 18 & 25.
Saturday mornings, September 14 & 28.
Station Fire Forest Recovery Project Presentation , September 15, 2:00PM. Placerita Canyon.
New trail maps available. If you’d like to explore a bit on your own, the City of Santa Clarita has a website with trail maps  of our local open spaces.
There’s also a new website for bicycle riders .
Ask Dr. Norm : Do you have questions about the flora, fauna, animals, rocks, etc. in our Santa Clarita Valley? Here’s a place for you to ask your questions. Dr. Norman Herr, Ph.D., is a professor of science and computer education at California State University, Northridge.
Tell Us About Your Hike : Here’s a new website where you can post pictures, provide feedback and make suggestions about the City of Santa Clarita’s trails and open spaces.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The SCV Outdoor Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
Or check out our Facebook page - L.A. Mountains .