Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Activity Of Individual Brain Cells Predicts Cognitive Flexibility

Date:
March 30, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
A new study provides intriguing insights into mechanisms of cognitive flexibility at the single cell level. The research may help to explain how we can change our point of view when faced with conflict.

A new study provides intriguing insights into mechanisms of cognitive flexibility at the single cell level. The research, published by Cell Press in the March 26th issue of the journal Neuron, may help to explain how we can change our point of view when faced with conflict.

We rely on an appropriate configuration of mental resources, known as a cognitive set, to help facilitate our behavior. However, behavioral flexibility relies on an ability to quickly shift to a new cognitive set (i.e. change our point of view) in response to changing external demands.

Brain imaging in human subjects while they engaged in trials that induced cognitive set shifts (known as shift trials) identified the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) as a brain region that appears to be involved in set shifting. However, due to imaging limitations, it was not possible to determine whether the PPC neurons were responding to the stimulus presentation or behavioral response or any other cognitive process during the shift trials.

Single cell recording studies in monkeys engaging in set-shifting paradigms have been unsuccessful because animals often have difficulty promptly shifting their cognitive sets under experimental conditions. "As a result, dynamic processes of cognitive set shifting have not been explored at the single-unit level in the primate brain," explains the first author Dr. Tsukasa Kamigaki from the Department of Physiology at The University of Tokyo School of Medicine.

Dr. Kamigaki and colleagues trained two monkeys to promptly shift their cognitive sets and compared neuronal activity during shift and non-shift trials to detect shift-related activity in the PPC. The experimental paradigm, originally devised for humans but modified to test cognitive flexibility in monkeys, required monkeys to match a sample stimulus to one of three choice stimuli based on one "dimension", shape or color. "Whenever the relevant dimension changed, the monkeys had to shift their cognitive set in order to respond based on the new dimension," explains Dr. Kamigaki.

The researchers discovered that PPC neurons were transiently activated when the monkeys shifted from one cognitive set to another (e.g., color to shape), but not when they shifted in the opposite direction (e.g., shape to color). Importantly, the shift-related activity preceded the corresponding behavioral responses by about four seconds and accurately predicted whether or not the cognitive set would be successfully shifted.

"Beyond the previous views that the PPC is involved mostly in cognitive processes directed to external visual objects or space, the results in the present study provide unprecedented evidence that PPC neurons contribute to flexible shifting of internal cognitive sets in primates," concludes Dr. Kamigaki.

The researchers include Tsukasa Kamigaki, Tetsuya Fukushima, and Yasushi Miyashita, of the Department of Physiology, The University of Tokyo School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tsukasa Kamigaki, Tetsuya Fukushima, Yasushi Miyashita. Cognitive Set Reconfiguration Signaled by Macaque Posterior Parietal Neurons. Neuron, 2009; 61 (6) 941-951 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.01.028

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Activity Of Individual Brain Cells Predicts Cognitive Flexibility." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325132159.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, March 30). Activity Of Individual Brain Cells Predicts Cognitive Flexibility. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325132159.htm
Cell Press. "Activity Of Individual Brain Cells Predicts Cognitive Flexibility." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325132159.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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