This story is from the category The Brain
Date posted: 09/12/2004
New technique may have uncovered key principle of brain function.
Miguel Nicolelis from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, USA have built upon the original neuroprocessor breakthrough that earlier this year, allowed monkeys to move robotic limbs and have now inserted thin microelectrodes into areas of living rat brain involved in sensory processing, motor function and memory formation.
These prothesis have been monitoring the similarities between rat brain reactions in individuals to the same stimulii, with each rat experiencing the same stimulii under a range of conditions and every change recorded and mapped.
"We can actually predict such changes, because at that moment, these different structures fire together for a few hundred milliseconds to create a synchronous pattern of firing that is a signature of the change from the previous state to the next," says Nicolelis. "It's almost like two computers exchanging information over a modem, and they get synchronized in the process."
This work is starting to provide the roadmap for how the brain functions - the processes in common for all individuals under a certain stimulii.
"One of the Holy Grails of neurobiology has been the neural 'code' by which the brain processes information," says Nicolelis. "Now we can say that there is no such thing as a single neural code, because the code is continuously changing according to the internal state of the brain, and according to the strategy the animal selects to search the environment."
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