Brain electric fields like conductors that govern how neurons process working memory information

When the human brain tries to remember a few things, like what groceries to buy on the way home, a new study shows that the brain remembers the information not by the electrical activity of individual neurons, but by the overall electric field they generate.

When neuroscientists studied how the brain processes information from working memory, they found that even when the same task was repeated each experiment, the activity of individual cells varied, a phenomenon known as cognitive representational drift.

However, scientists at MIT and the University of London have found that regardless of which specific neurons are involved, the overall electric field produced by these cells provides a consistent and consistent signal that allows the brain to remember information.

Study author Dimitris Pinotsis describes the electric field as being like the conductor of an orchestra, and the neurons are the performers. Even if the player is replaced or lost, the conductor is still in charge of coordinating the entire orchestra to complete the tune, ensuring that even if some neurons die, The brain can still function normally, and even with cognitive representation drift, the brain can still function fully through this mechanism.

To test whether the electrical fields in the brain could remain stable and contain task-specific information, the researchers directly measured the electrical activity of neurons on the surface of the brain while the animals were gaming. As expected, cognitive representation drifted, and individual neurons participated in different activities. , and electrical activity is generated not only from neurons involved in the task, but also from cells that are processing unrelated things, resulting in very chaotic signals.

So the team then separated the relevant neural activity through mathematical analysis to determine which neurons are performing the same work, and then calculated the electric field generated by the activity of these neurons on the surface of the brain. The electric field behaved more consistently than the underlying neural activity when the cues were oriented in the same direction.

Changes between individual neurons are not meaningless, with different neurons behaving differently every minute than just before, but for working memory tasks, more important than neuronal changes is overall consistency. Scientists are gearing up to investigate the next question: Could electric fields be a means of controlling neurons?

The new paper is published in the journal NeuroImage.可

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