Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Picower research finds unexpected activity in visual cortex

17.03.2006


For years, neural activity in the brain’s visual cortex was thought to have only one job: to create visual perceptions. A new study by researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory shows that visual cortical activity can serve another purpose--connecting visual experience with non-visual events.



The study, slated to appear in the March 17 issue of Science, implies that sensory parts of the brain may be able to accomplish more complex tasks than previously imagined, according to co-authors Marshall G. Shuler, MIT research affiliate, and Mark F. Bear, professor of brain and cognitive sciences. The findings have implications for understanding how our brains imbue sensory experience with behavioral meaning.

Electrodes were implanted in the visual cortex of adult rats. Initially, as expected, their neurons responded only to light. However, as the animal repeatedly experienced a light stimulus with the delivery of a drop of water, the neuronal activity changed. And in many cases, the neuron continued to be active after the light was extinguished until the water reward was delivered.


The neuron’s activity, the researchers said, was related to the anticipation of the reward. What’s more, neurons continued to predict reward times associated with the light cues even in different situations. "This is a strong indication that learning was actually occurring in the visual cortex," Shuler said.

Brain activity corresponding to "reward timing has been observed in higher-order brain regions, but never in the primary visual cortex," Bear said. "No one would have expected to see it there because the visual cortex is thought to be a detector of the physical features of the environment, with responses limited to those features to ensure that sensory processing is reliable and reproducible."

"These neurons were not acting in response to what the stimuli were, but what they had come to mean," Shuler said.

The researchers are not sure whether the animal perceives this brain activity, but they plan to explore how it may guide appropriate behaviors.

"We are pretty optimistic we can uncover the mechanism" underlying this finding, Bear said. "There is a lot going on in the brain that we have been unaware of, studying anesthetized animals all these years."

This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Patti Richards | MIT News Office
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>