Pittsburgh Researchers Study Memory Formation Through Neural Networks
May 31, 2011 12:21 PM
comment(s) - last by
Pittsburgh model showing individual brain cells in blue, adhesive proteins in green, and interconnections in red
(Source: University of Pittsburgh)
Observing neural processes in real time helps scientists better understand memory formation
Researchers from the
University of Pittsburgh
have created models that replicate the brain's complex electrical impulses in order to better understand neuron activity.
Many scientists are working to accomplish models that portray the billions of connections between neurons in the brain. For instance, researchers from the University College London have begun to
map neural connections in mouse brains
while University of Southern California researchers have invented a
carbon nanotube synapse circuit
that could bring them one step closer to building a synthetic brain.
Now, Henry Zeringue, study leader and a bioengineering professor in the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, along with Ashwin Vishwanathan, Pitt bioengineering doctoral student, and Guo-Qiang Bi, neurobiology professor at Pitt's School of Medicine, have created models out of living brain cells in order to get a better idea of how neurons work behind memory formation.
Previous studies and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have shown that memories are formed when the outer layer of the brain, called the cortex, engages in extended electrical activity after "initial stimulus." But this is a difficult process to view in real time due to the complex nature of the brain's neural networks.
"We can look at neurons as individuals, but that doesn't reveal a lot," said Zeringue. "Neurons are more connected and interdependent than any other cell in the body. Just because we know how one neuron reacts to something, a whole network can react not only differently, but sometimes in the complete opposite manner predicted."
Now, Zeringue and the Pitt research team have
that allowed them to witness this process in real time. They did this by stamping adhesive proteins onto silicon discs, and allowing the proteins to culture and dry. Then, cultured hippocampus cells taken from embryonic rats were fused to the proteins, allowing them to combine and grow into a natural network. The hippocampus is a part of the brain responsible for memory formation.
Researchers then worked to create and prolong the excited state that the cortex engages in after initial stimulus to view neuron activity. To do this, they disabled the cells' inhibitory response and used an electrical pulse to excite neurons.
The results were excited groups of 40 to 60 brain cells that were prolonged to 12 seconds in neuronal time. Normally, the observation of this process last .25 seconds in neuronal time.
With this extended observation, researchers were able to see how neurons transmitted and held electrical charge, which is vital information for understanding the molecular and cellular basis of memory formation.
The team now plans to study the genetic makeup of cells and several electrical pathways between cells in an effort to understand
network stimulation and communication
was published in
Lab on a Chip
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
6/1/2011 8:30:36 AM
What is "neuronal time" supposed to mean?
Is this anything like dog years?
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
Researchers One Step Closer to Building Synthetic Brain
April 25, 2011, 11:21 AM
Researchers Map Neural Connections in Mouse Brain
April 11, 2011, 10:01 AM
New 3-D Model Shows Neural Network's Individual Connections
March 11, 2011, 12:51 PM
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Researchers Hope to Find "Exotic" Lifeforms Inside Crater of Dinosaur Killing Meteor
April 14, 2015, 8:47 PM
Mathematician's Sociological Formulation May Explain the "Hipster Paradox"
April 14, 2015, 1:13 PM
Most Popular Articles
Why the U.S. Won't be Able to Ban Google's New Huawei Marshmallow Flagship Phone
October 3, 2015, 5:27 PM
Apple's First Fixes to iOS 9 Land w/ iOS 9.0.1 Release
September 23, 2015, 6:11 PM
Apple Watch Commands 2 in 3 Smart Watch Sales, WatchOS 2 Sweetens the Pitch
September 20, 2015, 6:07 PM
Tag Heuer Admits Its $1,800 Smartwatch Was Inspired By Apple -- Price-Wise
September 30, 2015, 6:32 PM
Breaking Bad: How to Crash Google's Chrome Browser With Just 8 Characters
September 23, 2015, 11:08 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information