Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain asymmetry improves processing of sensory information, study shows

Date:
February 6, 2014
Source:
University College London
Summary:
Fish that have symmetric brains show defects in processing information about sights and smells, according to the results of a new study into how asymmetry in the brain affects processing of sensory information.

An image of the left and right sided habenular nuclei of larval zebrafish showing left/right structural asymmetries in the processes of neurons (pink) and their connections (blue).
Credit: Ana Faro/Tom Hawkins/Steve Wilson/UCL

Fish that have symmetric brains show defects in processing information about sights and smells, according to the results of a new study into how asymmetry in the brain affects processing of sensory information.

Related Articles


It's widely believed that the left and right sides of the brain have slightly different roles in cognition and in regulating behaviour. However, scientists don't know whether these asymmetries actually matter for the efficient functioning of the brain.

Now, a team from UCL and KU Leuven, Belgium has shown that, in zebrafish at least, loss of brain asymmetry can have significant consequences on sensory processing, raising the possibility that defects in the development of brain functions on either the left or right on the brain could cause cognitive dysfunction. The study is published today in Current Biology.

Professor Steve Wilson, senior author of the study from the UCL Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, said: "We don't know whether asymmetries actually matter for the efficient functioning of the brain. For instance, if your brain was symmetric, would it work any less well than it normally does?

"This is potentially an important issue as brain-imaging studies in various neurological conditions have shown alterations in normally asymmetric patterns of neuronal activity." In their study the team used two-photon high resolution microscopy to image the activity of individual neurons in a part of the brain called the habenulae in larval zebrafish. This region of the brain shows asymmetries in many different vertebrates and is involved in mediating addiction, fear and reward pathways and probably influences numerous behaviour patterns.

In zebrafish habenulae most neurons responding to a light stimulus are on the left whereas most responding to odour are on the right. Using this knowledge to their advantage, scientists bred fish in which habenular asymmetry was reversed and fish with double-right and double-left sided habenulae. They then asked how the habenular neurons responded to visual or olfactory stimuli in these different conditions.

They found that if the direction of brain asymmetry was reversed, the functional properties of the habenular neurons were also reversed, whereas double-left and double-right sided brains almost completely lacked habenular responsiveness to odour or light respectively.

Dr Elena Dreosti, first author of the study, also from UCL Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, said: "These results show that loss of brain asymmetry can have significant consequences upon sensory processing and circuit function."

The research raises the possibility that defects in the establishment of brain lateralization could indeed be causative of cognitive or other symptoms of brain dysfunction.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Elena Dreosti, Nuria VendrellLlopis, Matthias Carl, Emre Yaksi, StephenW. Wilson. Left-Right Asymmetry Is Required for the Habenulae to Respond to Both Visual and Olfactory Stimuli. Current Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.016

Cite This Page:

University College London. "Brain asymmetry improves processing of sensory information, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206133650.htm>.
University College London. (2014, February 6). Brain asymmetry improves processing of sensory information, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206133650.htm
University College London. "Brain asymmetry improves processing of sensory information, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206133650.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. 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