Neuroscientists explore mysterious “events” in the brain that open up new avenues for understanding brain damage and damage – ScienceDaily


Using a new model of brain activity, computational neuroscientists at Indiana University, Maria Pope, Richard Betzel and Olaf Sporns, explore striking explosions of activity in the human brain that have never never been reviewed before. These bursts could potentially serve as biomarkers for brain diseases and conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, dementia and ADHD.

By analyzing human neuroimaging data, the IU research team discovered short spells of activity that form continuous “events” in the brain and that always occur, regardless of activity or state. of the brain. During a 10-minute brain scan, these events will occur about 10 to 20 times, each lasting just a few seconds, the researchers found.

“What people hadn’t seen is that the way regions of the brain talk to each other is punctuated by those brief moments of a few seconds in which there is a lot going on,” said Olaf Sporns, professor. emeritus and president Robert H. Shaffer. in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington.

“Now that we see them, we’ve focused on those moments to get a picture of how specific brain regions connect and talk to each other during these events.”

To begin investigating how these mysterious events work, the team built a computer model. Led by Maria Pope, graduate student of the Sporns laboratory and holder of a double doctorate. A candidate in neuroscience and computer science, the group used neuroimaging data from a human brain to build a model that reproduces its connections. The model was then simulated in a state similar to that of the resting brain to create synthetic MRI signals, using mathematical equations that mimic neuronal activity.

The model showed burst-like events, just like those seen in recordings of the human brain.

The article describing the model and how it compares to the real brain appeared in the Nov. 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The model shows us that these events are guided by the structural network of the brain,” Pope said. “They are linked to the physical structure of the brain.”

Specifically, the events originate from clusters of neurons and regions of the brain that are densely interconnected and momentarily light up together. Sporns likened the motif to an orchestra playing a piece of music.

“There are times when the orchestra comes together and there is a theme. They don’t just play a single note for 10 minutes. There are brief times when coordinated activity dominates and at other times, there can be a lot less, ”Sporns said. “This ebb and flow of coordination is something that we also see in the brain, and our model can replicate it. Clusters of brain regions combine in different ways. This is not just a pattern, but several variations on it. a theme.”

The result of the new model, Sporns suggested, is a potential game changer.

“Functional connectivity has been at the heart of research as a potential biomarker of brain disorders and has been linked to conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, dementia and ADHD. And researchers have tried for years to use brain simulations in clinical applications to model lesions. or disease, ”Sporns said. “This new model gives us a better lens through which to look at the brain, to see more clearly what is happening under normal and abnormal conditions.”

Researchers are now digging deeper into why the human brain uses these brief bursts of activity.

“Maybe the brain has developed this type of activity because it’s beneficial. Something in the structure of events can be helpful to the brain,” Pope said. “For example, many types of networked systems need to perform occasional system updates or resets, taking useful information globally and communicating it to the rest of the system.”

The answers to these questions may have implications not only for understanding the brain, but also for the study of neural networks and artificial intelligence.

“Clearer mapping of structure and function at the individual level could have implications for how we diagnose neurological diseases and lead to personalized treatment and intervention,” said Betzel, professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences and Cerebral Studies from the College of Arts and Sciences.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation grant “NRT: Intervascular Training in Complex Networks and Systems” (NSF 1735095) to Maria Pope and the National Science Foundation grant “NCS-FO: Edge-centric maps offunctional brain network organization and dynamics ”(NSF 2023985) to Richard Betzel and Olaf Sporns. Other co-authors include Makoto Fukushima, Division of Information Science, Graduate School of Science and Technology, and Data Science Center, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Ikoma, Nara, Japan and Center for Information and Neural Networks, National Institute for Information and Communications Technology, Suita, Osaka, Japan.


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