How An "Ocean" in Your Brain Helps Transmit Information

How An "Ocean" in Your Brain Helps Transmit Information ...

According to a new research conducted by Salk ProfessorThomas Albrightand staff scientist, the brain is thought to be a biological computer that processes information via traditional circuits, where data is bound from one cell to another. Despite the fact that that model is still effective, a second, very different way is that the brain parses information, according to the findings. The results, published in Science Advanceson April 22, 2022, will assist researchers better understand the way the brain processes information.

According to Albright, the Conrad T. Prebys Chair in Vision Research and Director of the Salks Vision Center Laboratory, the brain''s computational structure is improving. This model will help explain how the brains'' inner state may change, affecting individuals'' attention, focus, or ability to process information.

Researchers have long known that waves of electrical activity are present in the brain, both during sleep and wakefulness. However, the foundations for how the brain processes informationparticularly sensory information, like the sight of a light or the sound of a bellhave, revolved around information being detected by specialized brain cells and then transported from one neuron to the next as a relay.

This traditional brain model failed to explain how a single sensory cell can do so differently under different circumstances. For example, a cell might become activated in response to a rapid flash of light when an animal is particularly alert, but will remain inactive in response to the same light if attention is focused on something else.

In physics and chemistry, Gepshtein compares the theory that light and matter have both the properties of particles and waves. In some instances, light behaves as if it is a particle (also known as a photon) and waves are distributed across many locations. Both viewpoints of light are needed to explain its complex behavior.

According to Gepshtein, the therapist at Salks has found that brain activity is better described in some situations as a relationship of waves, similar to that of light as a wave. Both viewpoints are required to understand the brain.

Given the present adaptive approach to the brain, some sensory cell properties were difficult to explain. In the second study, the researchers calculated the activity of 139 neurons in an animal model to better understand the cells'' response to visual information. In collaboration with Sergey Saveliev of Loughborough University, they developed a mathematical framework to understand the activity of neurons and to anticipate future phenomena.

The greatest technique to explain how neurons were behaving, they discovered, was through the interaction of microscopic waves of activity rather than interaction of individual neurons. Instead of a flash of light activating specialized sensory cells, the researchers demonstrated how it creates distributed patterns: waves of activity across many adjacent individuals, with alternating peaks and troughs of activationlike ocean waves.

When these waves are simultaneously generated in different locations in the brain, they inevitably crash into one another. If two peaks of activity meet, they generate an even higher activity, while if a bit of low activity meets a peak, it might cancel it out. This is called wave interference.

According to Albright, when youre out in the world, there are a number of inputs and all of these different waves are generated. The net response of the brain to the world around you has to do with how all of these waves interact.

The researchers used a visual experiment to discover two individuals who were asked to identify a thin faint line (probe) located on a screen and flanked by other light patterns. How well the individuals performed this task, they found, depended on where the probe was located. The ability to detect the probe was elevated at certain locations and depressed at other locations, forming a spatial wave predicted by the model.

According to Gepshtein, who is also a member of Salks Center for Vision''s neurobiology, your ability to see this probe at every location will depend on how neural waves superimpose at that location. Weve now proposed how the brain mediates that.

The analysis of how neural waves interact is far-reaching than explaining this optical illusion. These findings suggest that the same kinds of waves are being generated in every area of the brains cortex, not just the part responsible for visual information analysis. This means that waves generated by the brain itself, by subtle cues in the environment or internal moods, may change the waves generated by sensory inputs.

According to researchers, this may explain how the brains'' reaction to something can differ from one day to another.

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