Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study provides new insights about brain organization


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 (, Karen Richardson ( or Shannon Koontz ( 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:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>