Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

It's Only A Game Of Chance: Leading Theory Of Perception Called Into Question

Date:
April 2, 2007
Source:
Weizmann Institute of Science
Summary:
Cells in the central nervous system tend to communicate with each other via a wave of electrical signals that travel along neurons. The question is: How does the brain translate this information to allow us to perceive and understand the world? It was believed that these signals generated patterns that the brain could interpret; however, new research shows that such patterns may be random. These studies will contribute to the ongoing debate on neuronal coding.

The validity of a leading theory that has held a glimmer of hope for unraveling the intricacies of the brain has just been called into question. Dr. Ilan Lampl of the Weizmann Institute of Science's Neurobiology Department has produced convincing evidence to the contrary. His findings recently appeared in the journal Neuron.

Cells in the central nervous system tend to communicate with each other via a wave of electrical signals that travel along neurons. The question is: How does the brain translate this information to allow us to perceive and understand the world before us?

It is widely believed that these electrical signals generate spiked patterns that encode different types of cognitive information. According to the theory, the brain is able to discriminate between, say, a chair and a table because each of them will generate a distinct sequence of patterns within the neural system that the brain then interprets. Upon repeated presentation of that object, its pattern is reproduced in a precise and controlled manner. Previous experiments had demonstrated repeating patterns lasting up to one second in duration.

But when Lampl and his colleagues recorded the activity of neurons in the brain region known as the cortex in anaesthetized rats and analyzed the data, they found no difference in the number of patterns produced or the time it takes for various patterns to repeat themselves, compared with data that was randomized. They therefore concluded that the patterns observed could not be due to the deterministically controlled mechanisms posited in the theory, but occur purely by chance.

The consequence of this research is likely to contribute significantly to the ongoing debate on neuronal coding. Lampl: "Since the 1980s, many neuroscientists believed they possessed the key for finally beginning to understand the workings of the brain. But we have provided strong evidence to suggest that the brain may not encode information using precise patterns of activity."

Dr. Ilan Lampl's research is supported by the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Neurological Diseases; the Carl and Micaela Einhorn-Dominic Brain Research Institute; the Alhadeff Research Award; the Chais Family Foundation; the Clore Foundation; the Grodetsky Family Foundation; the Dr. Pearl H. Levine Foundation for Research in the Neurosciences; the Henry S. and Anne S. Reich Research Fund for Mental Health; and Mr. and Mrs. Gerald M. Lushing, Beverly Hills, CA. Dr. Lampl is the incumbent of the Carl and Frances Korn Career Development Chair in the Life Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Weizmann Institute of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Weizmann Institute of Science. "It's Only A Game Of Chance: Leading Theory Of Perception Called Into Question." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070327144225.htm>.
Weizmann Institute of Science. (2007, April 2). It's Only A Game Of Chance: Leading Theory Of Perception Called Into Question. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070327144225.htm
Weizmann Institute of Science. "It's Only A Game Of Chance: Leading Theory Of Perception Called Into Question." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070327144225.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins