Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plumes in the sleeping avian brain

06.03.2014

When we drift into deep slow-wave sleep (SWS), waves of neuronal activity wash across our neocortex.

Birds also engage in SWS, but they lack this particular brain structure. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany have gained deeper insight into the sleeping avian brain.


Series of images (start top left; end bottom right) showing neuronal activity moving through the brain. Each image shows activity recorded at 64 pts (8x8 grid), more red colors denote higher activity

© MPI f. Ornithologie/ Rattenborg

They found complex 3D plumes of brain activity propagating through the brain that clearly differed from the two-dimensional activity found in mammals. These findings show that the layered neuronal organization of the neocortex is not required for waves to propagate, and raise the intriguing possibility that the 3D plumes of activity perform computations not found in mammals.

Mammals, including humans, depend upon the processing power of the neocortex to solve complex cognitive tasks. This part of the brain also plays an important role in sleep. During SWS, slow neuronal oscillations propagate across the neocortex as a traveling wave, much like sports fans performing the wave in a stadium.

It is thought that this wave might be involved in coordinating the processing of information in distant brain regions. Birds have mammalian-like cognitive abilities, but yet different neuronal organization. They lack the elegant layered arrangement of neurons characteristic of the neocortex. Instead, homologous neurons are packaged in unlayered, seemingly poorly structured nuclear masses of neurons.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Australia now investigated in female zebra finches how brain activity changed over space and time during sleep.

"When we first looked at the recordings, it appeared that the slow waves were occurring simultaneously in all recording sites. However, when we visualized the data as a movie and slowed it down, a fascinating picture emerged!" says Gabriël Beckers from Utrecht University, who developed the high-resolution recording method at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen.

The waves were moving across the two-dimensional recording array as rapidly changing arcs of activity. Rotating the orientation of the array by 90 degrees revealed similar patterns, and thereby established the 3D nature of the plumes propagating through the brain. The researchers found similar patterns in distant brain regions involved in processing different types of information, suggesting that this type of activity is a general feature of the sleeping avian brain.

In addition to revealing how neurons in the avian brain behave during sleep, this research also adds to our understanding of the sleeping neocortex. "Our findings demonstrate that the traveling nature of slow waves is not dependent upon the layered organization of neurons found in the neocortex, and is unlikely to be involved in functions unique to this pattern of neuronal organization," says Niels Rattenborg, head of the Avian Sleep Group in Seewiesen. "In this respect, research on birds refines our understanding of what is and is not special about the neocortex."

Finally, the researchers wonder whether the 3D geometry of wave propagation in the avian brain reflects computational properties not found in the neocortex. While this idea is clearly speculative, the authors note that during the course of evolution, birds replaced the three-layered cortex present in their reptilian ancestors with nuclear brain structures. "Presumably, there are benefits to the seemingly disorganized, nuclear arrangement of neurons in the avian brain that we are far from understanding. Whether this relates to what we have observed in the sleeping bird brain is a wide open question," says Rattenborg.

Weitere Informationen:

http://orn.iwww.mpg.de/2877207/news_publication_7984169?c=2168

Dr. Stefan Leitner | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie

Further reports about: Max-Planck-Institut Ornithology Plumes activity cognitive findings mammals neurons sleep waves

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>