Navigation Links
Brain on autopilot
Date:1/16/2014

This news release is available in German.

The structure of the human brain is complex, reminiscent of a circuit diagram with countless connections. But what role does this architecture play in the functioning of the brain? To answer this question, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, in cooperation with colleagues at the Free University of Berlin and University Hospital Freiburg, have for the first time analysed 1.6 billion connections within the brain simultaneously. They found the highest agreement between structure and information flow in the "default mode network," which is responsible for inward-focused thinking such as daydreaming.

Everybody's been there: You're sitting at your desk, staring out the window, your thoughts wandering. Instead of getting on with what you're supposed to be doing, you start mentally planning your next holiday or find yourself lost in a thought or a memory. It's only later that you realize what has happened: Your brain has simply "changed channels"and switched to autopilot.

For some time now, experts have been interested in the competition among different networks of the brain, which are able to suppress one another's activity. If one of these approximately 20 networks is active, the others remain more or less silent. So if you're thinking about your next holiday, it is almost impossible to follow the content of a text at the same time.

To find out how the anatomical structure of the brain impacts its functional networks, a team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, in cooperation with colleagues at the Free University of Berlin and the University Hospital Freiburg, have analysed the connections between a total of 40,000 tiny areas of the brain. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, they examined a total of 1.6 billion possible anatomical connections between these different regions in 19 participants aged between 21 and 31 years. The research team compared these connections with the brain signals actually generated by the nerve cells.

Their results showed the highest agreement between brain structure and brain function in areas forming part of the "default mode network", which is associated with daydreaming, imagination, and self-referential thought. "In comparison to other networks, the default mode network uses the most direct anatomical connections. We think that neuronal activity is automatically directed to level off at this network whenever there are no external influences on the brain," says Andreas Horn, lead author of the study and researcher in the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

Living up to its name, the default mode network seems to become active in the absence of external influences. In other words, the anatomical structure of the brain seems to have a built-in autopilot setting. It should not, however, be confused with an idle state. On the contrary, daydreaming, imagination, and self-referential thought are complex tasks for the brain.

"Our findings suggest that the structural architecture of the brain ensures that it automatically switches to something useful when it is not being used for other activities," says Andreas Horn. "But the brain only stays on autopilot until an external stimulus causes activity in another network, putting an end to the daydreaming. A buzzing fly, a loud bang in the distance, or focused concentration on a text, for example."

The researchers hope that their findings will contribute to a better understanding of brain functioning in healthy people, but also of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia. In follow-up studies, the research team will compare the brain structures of patients with neurological disorders with those of healthy controls.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kerstin Skork
skork@mpib-berlin.mpg.de
49-308-240-6211
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. REST is crucial for the timing of brain development
2. Holding a mirror to brain changes in autism
3. Strong scientific evidence that eating berries benefits the brain
4. The Japanese traditional therapy, honokiol, blocks key protein in inflammatory brain damage
5. Step forward in research into new treatments for brain edema
6. University of Alberta led research may have discovered how memories are encoded in our brains
7. Nanotherapy: Treating deadly brain tumors by delivering big radiation with tiny tools
8. Friendly to a fault, yet tense: Personality traits traced in brain
9. New discoveries about brain-hand connection sought to improve therapies, treatments, prosthetics
10. Autism risk gene linked to differences in brain structure
11. Amyloid beta in the brain of individuals with Alzheimers disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Brain on autopilot
(Date:4/18/2017)... , April 18, 2017  Socionext Inc., a global expert in ... media edge server, the M820, which features the company,s hybrid codec ... provided by Tera Probe, Inc., will be showcased during the upcoming ... NAB show at the Las Vegas Convention ... Click ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... April 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized ... solutions, today announced that it has been awarded ... Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack ... "Innovation has been a driving force within ... will allow us to innovate and develop new ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... LONDON , April 6, 2017 ... Control, RFID, ANPR, Document Readers, by End-Use (Transportation & ... Energy Facility, Oil, Gas & Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear ... Healthcare, Educational, Other) Are you looking for ... Authentication sector? ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... for two-dimensional representations of a complex biological network, a depiction of a system ... big mess,” said Dmitry Korkin, PhD, associate professor of computer science at Worcester ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... BioMedGPS announces expanded coverage of ... newest module, US Hemostats & Sealants. , SmartTRAK’s US Market for Hemostats and ... synthetic sealants and biologic sealants used in surgical applications. BioMedGPS estimates the market ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... gene in its endogenous context, enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the use of ... small RNA guides is transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , This ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... , Oct. 11, 2017  VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider ... nationwide oncology Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) network, which will launch ... for communication among health care professionals to enhance the patient ... office staff, and other health care professionals to help women ... cancer. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: