Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tales of the unexpected: how the brain detects novelty

28.11.2006
When you sit down to watch a DVD of your favourite film, the chances are that you are able to predict the exact sequence of events that is about to unfold.

Without our memories we would not only be unable to remember our past but perhaps more importantly predict the future. Scientists believe they may have identified how the brain allows us to anticipate future events and detect when things do not turn out as expected.

Dr Dharshan Kumaran and Dr Eleanor Maguire at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London have shown that the hippocampus, the area of the brain believed to play a crucial role in learning and memory, makes predictions of what will happen next by automatically recalling an entire sequence of events in response to a single cue. The research is published today in the journal Public Library of Science Biology.

Using an fMRI scanner, which uses changes in blood flow within the brain to provide measurements of brain activity, Dr Kumaran and Dr Maguire were able to show how the brain reacts to unexpected changes in a sequence of images. A subject is shown a series of four images which are then repeated in a different order. By changing the order of only the final two images, the researchers found that the hippocampus appeared to be predicting which image would come next and reacting when an unexpected image appeared.

"These experiments indicate that the hippocampus acts as a sort of comparison device, matching up past and present experience” says Dr Kumaran. "It does not appear to be reacting to novelty as such, but rather to discrepancies between what it expects to see and what it actually sees."

The results imply that when the hippocampus is prompted by a cue, it recalls a sequence of associated memories, a process that may explain how seeing a particular person's face or listening to a piece of music can trigger the recollection of an entire past experience. Furthermore, the hippocampus would appear to perform a critical comparison between our past and present experiences alerting us to unexpected occurrences in our environment, such as changed layout.

"Patients with damaged hippocampi, such as those with Alzheimer's Disease, often have trouble remembering sequences of events or finding their way around" explains Dr Kumaran. "This would seem to be because the damaged hippocampus is unable to rapidly bind together the many different components of our experiences into a coherent whole.”

Craig Brierley | alfa
Further information:
http://www.wellcome.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease
22.08.2017 | Duke University

nachricht Once invincible superbug squashed by 'superteam' of antibiotics
22.08.2017 | University at Buffalo

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>