Navigation Links
A new tool for brain research
Date:8/1/2013

Physicists and neuroscientists from The University of Nottingham and University of Birmingham have unlocked one of the mysteries of the human brain, thanks to new research using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG).

The work will enable neuroscientists to map a kind of brain function that up to now could not be studied, allowing a more accurate exploration of how both healthy and diseased brains work.

Functional MRI is commonly used to study how the brain works, by providing spatial maps of where in the brain external stimuli, such as pictures and sounds, are processed. The fMRI scan does this by detecting indirect changes in the brain's blood flow in response to changes in electrical signalling during the stimulus.

A signal change that happens after the stimulus has stopped is also observed with the fMRI scan. This is called the post-stimulus signal and up until now it has not been used to study how the brain works because its origin was uncertain.

In novel experiments, the research team has now combined fMRI techniques with EEG, which measures electrical activity in the brain, to show that the post-stimulus signal also actually reflects changes in brain signalling.

18 healthy volunteers were monitored by using EEG to measure the electrical activity generated by their brains' neurons (the signalling cells) while simultaneously recording fMRI measurements. A stimulus of electrical pulses was used to activate the part of the brain that controls movement in the right thumb.

The scientists then compared the EEG and fMRI signals and found that they both vary in the same way after the stimulus stops. This provides compelling evidence that the post-stimulus fMRI signal is a measure of neuronal activity rather than just changes in the brain's blood flow. Curiously, the team also found the post-stimulus fMRI signal was not consistent, even though the stimulus input to the brain was the same each time. This natural variability in the brain response was also reflected by the EEG activity and the researchers suggest that this signal might help the brain make the transition from processing stimuli back to their internal thoughts in different ways.

Dr Karen Mullinger from The University of Nottingham's Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Centre said: "This work opens a new window of time in the fMRI signal in which we can look at what the brain is doing. It may also open up new research avenues in exploring the function of the healthy brain and the study of neurological diseases."

Dr Stephen Mayhew from Birmingham University Imaging Centre said "We do not know what the exact role of the post-stimulus activity is or why this response is not always consistent when the stimulus input to the brain is the same. We have already secured funding through the Birmingham-Nottingham Strategic Collaboration Fund to continue this research into further understanding of human brain function using combinations of neuroimaging methods."

Director of the Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Centre, Professor Peter Morris, said: "Functional magnetic resonance imaging is the main tool available to cognitive neuroscientists for the investigation of human brain function. The demonstration in this paper, that the secondary fMRI response (the post-stimulus undershoot) is not simply a passive blood flow response, but is directly related to synchronous neural activity, as measured with EEG, heralds an exciting new chapter in our understanding of the workings of the human mind."


'/>"/>

Contact: Emma Rayner
emma.rayner@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-595-15793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scientists at Mainz University decode mechanisms of cell orientation in the brain
2. Researchers uncover cellular mechanisms for attention in the brain
3. Key target responsible for triggering detrimental effects in brain trauma identified
4. Gallo Center scientists identify key brain circuits that control compulsive drinking in rats
5. Fear factor: Missing brain enzyme leads to abnormal levels of fear in mice, reveals new research
6. Artifact suppression and analysis of brain activities with EEG signals
7. Low levels of toxic proteins linked to brain diseases, study suggests
8. A revolutionary new 3-D digital brain atlas
9. New virus isolated from patients with severe brain infections
10. A peptide to protect brain function
11. Dads life stress exposure can affect offspring brain development, Penn Study finds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/2/2017)... 2, 2017 Australian stem cell and regenerative ... has signed an agreement with the Monash Lung Biology ... Discovery Institute and Department of Pharmacology at Monash University, ... preclinical study to support the use of Cymerus™ mesenchymal ... Asthma is a chronic, long term lung ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... Strategic Cyber Ventures , the industry,s first cybersecurity focused ... investment in  Polarity , the first commercial human memory-augmentation ... and is led by cybersecurity veterans Tom Kellermann ... , also a longtime cybersecurity veteran and founder of ... round of funding. This new funding will be used ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... Der weltweite Biobanking-Sektor wird bis ... Gespräch mit mehr als 50 Vertretern aus verschiedenen Branchen wurde ... um diese Prognose zu realisieren. ... Zu den Schwierigkeiten ... Mittel für die Biobank, die Implementierung Zeit sparender Technologien, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/22/2017)... ... March 21, 2017 , ... Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), an ... explored as a way to track the brain’s response to acute pain in adults ... cold pressor test ,” published today in the journal Neurophotonics , by ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... -- Personal Genome Diagnostics Inc. (PGDx) today announced an ... U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that replaces ... new CancerSELECT ™ 125 test. CancerSELECT 125 ... that includes microsatellite instability status (MSI), a biomarker ... inhibitor immunotherapies. CancerSELECT 125 will be available to ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... ... March 20, 2017 , ... ... of endogenous hormones to regulate homeostasis via their cognate nuclear receptors. By ... adverse reproductive, neurological, proliferative, and immunological disorders. EDC exposure can occur directly, ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... ... March 20, 2017 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. ... play system that counts Peel Plate microbial test colonies, stores plate images, exports ... unit has an internal computer, and is accurate within 10% of an experienced ...
Breaking Biology Technology: