Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Embedded nerve cells hold the key to brain activity

Date:
July 24, 2013
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
Understanding complex systems such as the brain of mammals: Dr. Arvind Kumar and colleagues from the Bernstein Center and the Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks-BrainTools at the University of Freiburg present a new view on brain function. Much of today's brain research follows an approach that has been in use for decades: An area of the brain is either silenced of augmented in its activity, and the resulting effects in other parts of the brain -- or in the whole organ -- are measured. While this approach is very successful in understanding how the brain processes input from our senses, a team of scientists argues that it is too simple when trying to understand other brain regions.

Understanding complex systems such as the brain of mammals: Dr. Arvind Kumar and colleagues from the Bernstein Center and the Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks-BrainTools at the University of Freiburg present a new view on brain function. Much of today's brain research follows an approach that has been in use for decades: An area of the brain is either silenced of augmented in its activity, and the resulting effects in other parts of the brain -- or in the whole organ -- are measured. While this approach is very successful in understanding how the brain processes input from our senses, a team of scientists from Freiburg argues that it is too simple when trying to understand other brain regions.

Related Articles


The team presents their findings in the current issue of the journal Trends in Neuroscience.

"The traditional approach reduces the brain's enormous complexity by defining relatively arbitrary subunits," Kumar and his colleagues explain. For this abstraction to work, information must flow in one direction only. But this is not what happens in the brain, which is a complex network of smaller sub-networks that allows feedback to preceding units. Even for a network of ten units, unraveling each unit's function would require more than 100,000 individual experimental setups -- an impossible task.

"Perhaps, the main question in understanding the brain is not so much how a particular area affects the activity of others, but rather how exactly brain activity can be changed from one state to another," Kumar states.

For this purpose, the neuroscientists introduced a new quality of nerve cells: their embeddedness. This is a measure for the role that a neuron plays within a network. It combines data about where a nerve cell receives information from, where it connects to, and how much it contributes to the whole network. The researchers combine this idea with the insight that already a limited number of elements within a network can control its overall behavior. Concentrating on these 'driving neurons' promises that even manipulating only a small number of nerve cells will provide new insight about the dynamics within the whole network.

The team from Freiburg hopes that this will open new perspectives on understanding the brain, its function -- and dysfunction.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Arvind Kumar, Ioannis Vlachos, Ad Aertsen, Clemens Boucsein. Challenges of understanding brain function by selective modulation of neuronal subpopulations. Trends in Neurosciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2013.06.005

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Embedded nerve cells hold the key to brain activity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724102612.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2013, July 24). Embedded nerve cells hold the key to brain activity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724102612.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Embedded nerve cells hold the key to brain activity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724102612.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
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