A study by American scientists with contribution by a Greek neuroscientist is very close to understanding the mysteries of the brain. It brings new hopes for the treatment of brain disorders such as schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and hyperactivity.
The brain has a remarkable ability to learn new things while holding the already acquired knowledge. How exactly the new information is integrated in the neural system of the brain and how does it work?
Christos Konstantinidis, a neurobiology professor at the WakeForestUniversity, along with scientists from MIT, attempted to shed light on these mysterious processes of the human brain.
The researchers showed how the new information from the external environment gets coded in the neurons of the prefrontal cortex, which is a vital region of the brain, involved directly in planning and decision making, learning and memory.
“We managed to isolate the brain activity and see what happens in the prefrontal cortex before and after learning a new thing”, said the Greek professor. Then the researchers analyzed the electrical activity of neurons, initially in 2 monkeys.
While the animals were watching various shapes such as circles and squares on a screen, the scientists were recording electrical activity of their brains. Then the animals were trained to recognize various patterns and remember them. With the help of computer scientists compared the activity of neurons before and after the training and finally managed to identify a small number of specific brain cells activated when learning new things.
It was the same cells (neurons) in which the information is stored. “In essence, this special group of neurons is able to do different things simultaneously. It learns and stores the new information at the same time,” says Konstantinidis.
The results of this research and understanding of the brain function open new paths that will help scientists who work with patients suffering from short term memory problems due to stroke or head injuries. “It may even help in treating patients with schizophrenia and similar brain disorders,” said professor Konstantinidis.