Weekly News via Email
   Set as homepage | Add to favorites | Customer Service | Subscribe Now | Place an Ad | Contact Us | Sitemap Sunday, 09.21.2014
Classifieds
News Archive
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
 1  2
 3  4  5  6  7  8  9
 10  11  12  13  14  15  16
 17  18  19  20  21  22  23
 24  25  26  27  28  29
Online Extras
Site Services
Around Bend
Outdoor Fun
Travel Info
Shop Local




Members Of



Poll: Today's Live Poll
Email to a friend | Print this | PDF version | Comments (0 posted) 
  Blogger |   del.icio.us |   digg |   newsvine

Feb 22,2008
Brain cells tied to consciousness reported found
by Bend Weekly News Sources

In a study billed as an ex­plora­t­ion in­to the realm of “con­scious­ness,” re­search­ers claim to have found brain cells that be­come very busy only when some­thing is con­sciously no­ticed.

Try­ing to un­der­stand what cre­ates con­sciousness—the sense of be­ing alive and aware—is one of the all-time most ex­as­per­at­ing prob­lems in sci­ence. The key stum­bling block: even if one knew every brain mech­an­ism un­der­ly­ing con­scious­ness, there would still be no ap­par­ent way to see or meas­ure the ac­tu­al pro­duc­tion of con­sciou­sness.

For now, many re­search­ers fig­ure they may as well just do the best they can in un­rav­el­ing those phys­i­cal mech­an­isms. The new stu­dy, led by Qui­an Qui­roga of the Uni­ver­s­ity of Leices­ter, U.K., is among those de­signed to at­tack that ques­tion. 

Vol­un­teers were shown pic­tures on a com­put­er screen very briefly­—for a time just at the edge of be­ing long enough to be no­tice­a­ble. The par­t­ici­pants were asked each time wheth­er they saw the pic­ture or not. Some­times the ex­act same vis­u­al in­put was no­tice­a­ble on one tri­al and not on an­oth­er, for the same per­son, Qui­an Qui­roga said. 

The re­search­ers ex­am­ined what was hap­pen­ing in the brain dur­ing this. Cer­tain neu­rons, or brain cells, “re­sponded to the con­scious per­cep­tion in an ‘all-or-none’ way,” Qui­an Qui­roga said: they dra­mat­ic­ally changed their rate of fir­ing sig­nals, only when pic­tures were rec­og­nized. These neu­rons were in the me­di­al tem­po­ral lobe, a re­gion deep in­side the brain of­ten as­so­ci­at­ed with mem­o­ry.

For ex­am­ple, in one pa­tient, a neu­ron in the hip­pocam­pus—a struc­ture al­so in that area—“fired very strongly to a pic­ture of the pa­tient’s broth­er when rec­og­nized and re­mained com­pletely si­lent when it was not,” Qui­an Qui­roga said. “An­other neu­ron be­haved in the same man­ner with pic­tures of the World Trade Cen­tre.” The vol­un­teers were pa­tients who had to un­dergo ep­i­lep­sy sur­gery.

“Based on the fir­ing of these neu­rons it was pos­si­ble to pre­dict far above chance wheth­er a pic­ture was rec­og­nized or not,” Quian Quiroga said. Al­so, “a pic­ture flashed very briefly gen­er­at­ed nearly the same re­spon­se—if rec­og­nized—as when shown for much long­er per­i­ods of time.”

The find­ings are to ap­pear this week in the early on­line edi­tion of the re­search jour­nal Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tio­n­al Aca­de­my of Sci­en­ces.

Po­ten­tial ap­plica­t­ions of the work in­clude the de­vel­op­ment of “neu­ral pros­thet­ic” de­vices to be used by paralyzed pa­tients or am­putees, Quian Qui­roga said. A spi­nal in­ju­ry pa­tient, such as the late Chris­to­pher Reeve, can think about reach­ing a cup of tea, but the mus­cles don’t get the or­der. Neu­ral pros­the­ses are de­signed to read these com­mands di­rectly from the brain and trans­mit them to bi­on­ic de­vices such as a robotic arm. 

The find­ings, Quian Qui­roga said, could al­so have im­plica­t­ions treat­ment of pa­tients with patholo­gies of the hip­po­cam­pal forma­t­ion, such as ep­i­lep­sy, Alzheimer’s dis­ease and schiz­o­phre­nia.

Courtesy University of Leicester and World Science staff

1481 times read

Related news
Even rats may dream in pictures, study finds by World-Science.net posted on Dec 22,2006

Science gives beauty some of its mystery back - for now by World Science Staff posted on Jan 04,2008

Success may be “family affair” by Courtesy University of Bonn an posted on Dec 08,2006

Computers learn 'regret' by Bend_Weekly_News_Sources posted on Feb 29,2008

Other universes may be detectable, published study claims by Bend_Weekly_News_Sources posted on Jan 04,2008

Did you enjoy this article? Rating: 4.92Rating: 4.92Rating: 4.92Rating: 4.92Rating: 4.92 (total 25 votes)

Market Information
Breaking News
Most Popular
Most Commented
Featured Columnist
Horoscope Guide
Aquarius Aquarius Libra Libra
Aries Aries Pisces Pisces
Cancer Cancer Sagittarius Sagittarius
Capricorn Capricorn Scorpio Scorpio
Gemini Gemini Taurus Taurus
Leo Leo Virgo Virgo
Local Attractions
Bend Visitors & Convention Bureau
Bend Visitors & Convention Bureau

Mt. Bachelor Resort
Mt. Bachelor Resort

Les Schwab Ampitheater
Les Schwab Ampitheater

Deschutes County Fairgrounds
Deschutes County
Fairgrounds

Tower Theatre
Tower Theatre

The High Desert Museum

Advertisements



Deschutes County

Google  
  Web    BendWeekly.com
© 2006 Bend Weekly News
A .Com Endeavors, Inc. Company.
All Rights Reserved. Terms under
which this service is provided to you.
Please read our Privacy Policy. Contact us.
Bend Weekly News & Event Guide Online
   Save the Net
Advertisement
External sites open in new window,
not endorsed by BendWeekly.com
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
Add to Google Add to MSN Add to My AOL
What are RSS headlines?