Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study provides new insights about brain organization

20.02.2004


New evidence in animals suggests that theories about how the brain processes sight, sound and touch may need updating. Researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and colleagues report their findings in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



Using electrodes smaller than a human hair, researchers from Wake Forest Baptist and the University of California at San Francisco recorded individual cell activity in the brains of 31 adult rats. Their goal was to test two conflicting ideas about brain organization.

"One theory is that individual senses have separate areas of the brain dedicated to them," said Mark Wallace, Ph.D., the study’s lead investigator. "In this view, information is processed initially on a sense-by-sense basis and doesn’t come together until much later. However, this view has recently been challenged by studies showing that processing in the visual area of the brain, for example, can be influenced by hearing and touch."


Wallace and colleagues created a map of the rat cerebral cortex, the part of the brain believed responsible for perception. The map was created to show how different areas respond to sight, sound and touch. They found that while large regions are overwhelming devoted to processing information from a single sense, in the borders between them, cells can share information from both senses.

"This represents a new view of how the brain is organized," said Wallace, an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist.

He said these multisensory cells might also help explain how individuals who suffer a loss of one sense early in their life often develop greater acuity in their remaining senses.

"Imaging studies in humans show that when sight is lost at a young age, a portion of the brain that had been dedicated to sight begins to process sound and touch. It is possible that this change begins in these multisensory border regions, where cells that are normally responsive to these different senses are already found."

Wallace said the finding is also important because it suggests that the process of integrating sensory information might happen faster in the cerebral cortex than was previously thought. Wallace said that the ultimate goal of this research is to understand how the integration of multiple senses results in our behaviors and perceptions.

"It should come as no surprise when I say that we live in a multisensory world, being constantly bombarded with information from many senses. What is a bit of a surprise is that although we now know a great deal about how the brain processes information from the individual senses to form our perceptions, we’re still in the early stages of understanding how this happens between the different senses. "

Wallace’s co-researchers were Barry Stein, Ph.D., professor and chairman of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist, and Ramnarayan Ramachandran at the University of California.


The project was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Media Contacts: Robert Conn (rconn@wfubmc.edu), Karen Richardson (krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu) or Shannon Koontz (skoontz@wfubmc.edu) 336-716-4587.

About Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: Wake Forest Baptist is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University School of Medicine. It is licensed to operate 1,282 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of "America’s Best Hospitals" by U.S. News & World Report.

Robert Conn | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wfubmc.edu/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>