Monday, September 20, 2010

For neurons to work as a team, it helps to have a beat

For neurons to work as a team, it helps to have a beat: "The timing of when individual neurons spiked was synchronized with brain rhythms occurring in distinct frequency bands in other regions of the brain. For example, the high-beta band - 25 to 40 hertz (cycles per second) - was especially important for brain areas involved in motor control and planning.
'Many neurons are thought to respond to a receptive field, so that if I look at one motor neuron as I move my hand to the left, I'll see it fire more often, but if I move my hand to the right, the neuron fires less often,' said Carmena. 'What we've shown here is that, in addition to these traditional 'external' receptive fields, many neurons also respond to 'internal' receptive fields. Those internal fields focus on large-scale patterns of synchronization involving distinct cortical areas within a larger functional network.'
The researchers expressed surprise that this spike dependence was not restricted to the neuron's local environment. It turns out that this local-to-global connection is vital for organizing spatially distributed neuronal groups."

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