Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Video game used for study of human navigation

11.09.2003


Using a video game featuring a yellow taxi, virtual city and human players with electrodes embedded in their memory banks, neuroscientists at UCLA and Brandeis University have discovered how three types of brain cells interact to help people navigate the real world.

Published in the Sept. 11 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Nature, the findings offer unique information about how human memory works and present new avenues of investigation for treatment of memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The research, which evaluated the responses of patients already attached to EEG monitors to determine the focus of epileptic seizures, also demonstrates how clinical patient settings offer unique opportunities to learn about the mind and body.



Researchers monitored signals from individual brain cells as patients played a computer game in which they explored a virtual town in a taxi. The players searched for passengers who appeared in random locations and delivered them to designated stores.

"Our findings provide the first glimpse at the visually based neural code used by humans to form spatial maps of their environment and navigate from location to location," said neurosurgeon Dr. Itzhak Fried, who is professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. "Damage to these groups of cells can cause people to lose their ability to negotiate their environment and remember new surroundings."

"The success of this project is also an important illustration of the value of clinical patient settings in learning about the mind and body," said Fried, who has pioneered methods for studying the cellular basis of human vision and memory. "The understanding gained from such studies may eventually help future patients with brain disorders affecting the brain memory systems."

The Nature article identifies distinct cells that help humans determine 1) where they are (place); 2) what they see (view); and 3) what they are looking for (goal). The research team found "place" cells primarily in the hippocampus and "view" cells primarily in the parahippocampal region.

"Our study shows how cells in the human brain rapidly learn to respond to complex features of our environment. One of the most intriguing discoveries was that some cells respond to combinations of place, view and goal. For example, we found cells that responded to viewing an object only when that object was a goal," said Dr. Michael Kahana, associate professor at Brandeis University and an expert in the neurophysiology of human spatial navigation.

"Our results suggest that our navigation system preserves some elements of the same system used by other mammals, but also has some features unique to us because of our highly developed visual system," said first author, Arne Ekstrom, who is a doctoral student at Brandeis University.

Previous research had identified "place" cells in the hippocampus of rodents, until now perhaps the most striking example of a correlation between brain cell activity and complex behavior in mammals. These cells increase their firing rate when the animal moves across specific portions of its surroundings.

Neuroimaging studies had implicated the hippocampus and the parahippocampal region as keys to human navigation, but until now it remained unclear whether rodent-like place coding occurs in humans, or whether human navigation is driven by a different neural mechanism based on vision.

This study shows that place cells are indeed important in humans, but that other cells aid in navigation by coding for landmarks (view cells) and the intended goal (goal cells).

At UCLA, the research team recorded responses of single neurons in seven subjects who were patients with epilepsy undergoing invasive monitoring with intracranial electrodes to identify the seizure focus for potential surgical treatment.

The researchers recorded the activity of 317 neurons: 67 cells in the hippocampus, 54 in the parahippocampal region, 111 in the amygdala and 85 in the frontal lobes. To determine the nature of cellular responses while subjects performed tasks on the computer, researchers compared activity rates related to subject location in the virtual town (place), the object they viewed (view), and their goal.



Online Resources:
UCLA Division of Neurosurgery: http://neurosun.medsch.ucla.edu
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute: www.npi.ucla.edu
David Geffen School of Medicine: www.medsch.ucla.edu
Brandeis Computational Memory Laboratory: http://fechner.ccs.brandeis.edu
Dr. Itzhak Fried biography: http://neurosun.medsch.ucla.edu/Faculty/Fried/Faculty_Fried.html
Dr. Michael Kahana biography: http://memlab1.ccs.brandeis.edu/~kahana

Dan Page | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu/

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow

27.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Clock stars: Astrocytes keep time for brain, behavior

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Sun's impact on climate change quantified for first time

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>