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 Neuronal circuits able to rewire on the fly to sharpen senses

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Date posted: 17/12/2007

Researchers from the Centre for the Neural Basis of Cognition have for the first time described a mechanism called ?dynamic connectivity,? in which neuronal circuits are rewired ?on the fly? by the brain itself. This allows senses to become more or less keen.

This newly discovered, biological algorithm for analysing the brain at work allows scientists to explain why when we notice a scent, the brain can quickly sort through input and determine exactly what that smell is.

?If you think of the brain like a computer, then the connections between neurons are like the software that the brain is running. Our work shows that this biological software is changed rapidly as a function of the kind of input that the system receives,? said Nathan Urban, associate professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon.

When a stimulus such as an odour is encountered, many neurons start to fire. When many neurons fire at the same time, the signals can be difficult for the brain to interpret. During lateral inhibition, the stimulated neurons send ?cease-fire? messages to the neighbouring neurons, reducing the noise and making it easier to precisely identify a stimulus. This process also facilitates accurate recognition of stimuli in many sensory areas of the brain.

See the full Story via external site: www.physorg.com



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