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 October 30, 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 October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) — A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) — Google X wants to improve modern medicine with nanoparticles and a wearable device. It's all an attempt to tackle disease detection and prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) — Researchers in Sweden released a study showing heavy milk drinkers face an increased mortality risk from a variety of causes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) — Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
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