Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Develop Method for Mapping Neuron Clusters

02.03.2015

A team of scientists has developed a method for identifying clusters of neurons that work in concert to guide the behavior. Their findings, which appear in the journal Neuron, address a long-standing mystery about the organization of the prefrontal cortex (PFC)—one of the most recently evolved parts of the primate brain that underlies complex cognitive functions.

“We have established a method to find functional groupings of neurons based on co-fluctuation of their responses,” says Roozbeh Kiani, an assistant professor in NYU’s Center for Neural Science and one of the study’s authors. “In doing so, we show that PFC neurons are organized into spatially contiguous maps, much like their counterparts in sensory cortices. The widely accepted notion that orderly spatial maps are restricted to sensory cortices, therefore, needs revision.”

“Our methodology is closely related to the techniques that led to the discovery of functional networks in brain imaging studies,” adds William Newsome, a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. “There is, however, a crucial difference. We extend the methodology to cellular scale and demonstrate that it can be used for identifying networks at a neuronal level. By suggesting a potential neural substrate for functional networks in macro-scale brain imaging we bridge a critical gap in our knowledge.”

The research focused on the “parcellation” of PFC neurons: how these cells are grouped together to perform specific functions. The scientists showed that the discovered subnetworks in the prefrontal cortex are linked to the decision-making behavior but seem to have distinct roles: one subnetwork better represents upcoming choices and another one seems to keep track of past choices.

Previous studies that explored spatial organization of neurons in the prefrontal cortex predominantly focused on the average responses of neurons by examining them one at a time. They missed the organization of the network “forest” for the neuron “trees”. In the Neuron paper, the researchers outlined a vastly different method. In it, they focused on the correlated activity of large numbers of simultaneously recorded neurons to spot the larger “topography” of the network—and how their groupings may be linked to the behavior. Specifically, they applied clustering algorithms that discover natural divisions in the matrix of response correlations to divide the recorded neural population.

“This technique provides an innovative, but straightforward, way to delineate cortical networks,” observers Kiani. “The subnetworks in the PFC are stable across behavioral tasks and are apparent even in the spontaneous fluctuations of neural responses. They seem to be largely defined by the intrinsic connectivity of neurons in the local network. Therefore, they provide an objective basis for dividing the cortex into constituent subnetworks, offering a common standard across experiments.”

The study’s other authors include Diogo Peixoto and Christopher Cueva from Stanford University’s Department of Neurobiology and Stephen Ryu, M.D., from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Department of Neurosurgery.

The research was funded, in part, by Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain, and the Air Force Research Laboratory (FA9550-07-1-0537).

Contact Information
James Devitt
Deputy Director for Media Relations
james.devitt@nyu.edu
Phone: 212-998-6808

James Devitt | newswise
Further information:
http://www.nyu.edu

Further reports about: Mapping Medical Neuron functional networks networks neural prefrontal cortex responses sensory

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Designed proteins to treat muscular dystrophy
29.06.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Funding of Collaborative Research Center developing nanomaterials for cancer immunotherapy extended
28.06.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

High conductive foils enabling large area lighting

29.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Designed proteins to treat muscular dystrophy

29.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Climate Fluctuations & Non-equilibrium Statistical Mechanics: An Interdisciplinary Dialog

29.06.2017 | Seminars Workshops

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>