Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mapping the Brain

Freiburg Researchers Use Signals from Natural Movements to Identify Brain Regions

Whether we run to catch a bus or reach for a pen: Activities that involve the use of muscles are related to very specific areas in the brain. Traditionally, their exact location has only been determined through electrical stimulation or unnatural, experimental tasks. A team of scientists in Freiburg has now succeeded for the first time in mapping the brain’s surface using measurements of everyday movements.

The brain mapping method developed in Freiburg allows scientists to attribute arm and leg movements (blue and red dots, respectively) to locations on the brain’s surface (Image: Tonio Ball).

Attributing abilities to specific brain regions and identifying pathological areas is especially important in the treatment of epilepsy patients, as severe cases require removal of neural tissue. Until now, such “mapping” involved stimulating individual regions of the brain’s surface with electric currents and observing the reaction or sensation. Alternatively, patients were asked to perform the same movements again and again until the physicians isolated the corresponding patterns in brain activity.

However, these methods required for the patient to cooperate and to provide detailed answers to the physicians’ questions. This is a prerequisite that small children or patients with impaired mental abilities can hardly meet, and hence there is a need for other strategies.

Scientists from the group of Dr. Tonio Ball at the Cluster of Excellence “BrainLinks-BrainTools” and the Bernstein Center Freiburg report in the current issue of NeuroImage that the brain’s natural activity during everyday movements can also be used to reliably identify the regions responsible for arm and leg movements.

The researchers examined data from epilepsy patients who had electrodes implanted under their skull prior to surgery. Using video recordings, the team captured the spontaneous movements of their patients, searching for concurrent signals of a certain frequency in the data gathered on the surface of the brain. They succeeded in creating a map of the brain’s surface for arm and leg movements that is as accurate as those created through established experimental methods.

A big hope for the team of researchers is also to gain new insights into the control of movements in the brain, as their method allows them to explore all manner of behaviors and is no longer limited to experimental conditions. Last but not least, the scientists explain that this new method of analyzing signals from the brain will contribute to the development of brain-machine interfaces that are suitable for daily use.

Original article
Ruescher J., Iljina O., Altenmueller D.-M., Aertsen A., Schulze-Bonhage A., Ball, T. (2013) Somatotopic mapping of natural upper- and lower-extremity movements and speech production with high gamma electrocorticography. NeuroImage 81, 164–177.
Dr. Gunnar Grah
Science Communicator for BrainLinks-BrainTools
and Bernstein Center Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761/203 - 67722

Rudolf-Werner Dreier | University of Freiburg
Further information:

Further reports about: Bernstein Brain NeuroImage brain region brain-machine interface

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

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...

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

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>