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Brain's 'radio stations' have much to tell scientists
Date:2/8/2011

nity to study the complete physiology of brain activity."

Leuthardt and his colleagues have used the grids to watch consciousness fade under surgical anesthesia and return when the anesthesia wears off. They found each frequency gave different information on how different circuits changed with the loss of consciousness, according to Leuthardt.

"Certain networks of brain activity at very slow frequencies did not change at all regardless of how deep under anesthesia the patient was," Leuthardt says. "Certain relationships between high and low frequencies of brain activity also did not change, and we speculate that may be related to some of the memory circuits."

Their results also showed a series of changes that occurred in a specific order during loss of consciousness and then repeated in reverse order as consciousness returned. Activity in a frequency region known as the gamma band, which is thought to be a manifestation of neurons sending messages to other nearby neurons, dropped and returned as patients lost and regained consciousness.

The results appeared in December in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In another paper that will publish Feb. 9 in The Journal of Neuroscience, Leuthardt and his colleagues have shown that the wavelength of brain signals in a particular region can be used to determine what function that region is performing at that time. They analyzed brain activity by focusing on data from a single electrode positioned over a number of different regions involved in speech. Researchers could use higher-frequency bands of activity in this brain area to tell whether patients:

  • had heard a word or seen a word
  • were preparing to say a word they had heard or a word they had seen
  • were saying a word they had heard or a word they had seen.

"We've historically lumped the frequencies of brain activity that we used in this study into one phenomenon
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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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