Navigation Links
Oregon study details brain pathways linking visual function, running
Date:7/16/2014

EUGENE, Ore. (July 16, 2014) A new study by researchers at the University of Oregon published today in the journal Neuron describes a brainstem circuit in mice that may help explain how active movement impacts the way the brain processes sensory information.

"Previous studies have examined changes in the visual cortex of mice during running. What was unknown was how do running and vision get linked together in the first place?" said Cristopher Niell, a biology professor in the Institute of Neuroscience and the senior author on the paper "Identification of a Brainstem Circuit Regulating Visual Cortical State in Parallel with Locomotion."

The "aha moment" that inspired the study came five years ago when Niell, as a postdoctoral fellow in Michael Stryker's lab at the University of California, San Francisco, was examining visual perception in mice. He observed that running appeared to be changing how neurons in the brain were firing.

"We found that running turned up the magnitude in the mouse's visual cortex by about two-fold the signals were basically twice as strong when the mouse was running," Niell said.

This initial finding, demonstrating a mind-body connection in the mouse visual system, was published in Neuron in 2010. Following up on this finding, Niell's team sought to identify neural circuits that could link movement and vision together.

The researchers focused on the brain's mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR), which has been shown to mediate running and other forms of activity in many species. They hypothesized that neural pathways originating in the MLR could serve a dual role sending a signal down to the spinal cord to initiate locomotion, and another up to the cortex to turn up the visual response.

Using optogenetic methods, the team created genetically sensitized neurons in the MLR region of the mouse brain that could be activated by light. The team then recorded the resulting increased visual responses in the cortex. Their results demonstrated that the MLR can indeed lead to both running and increased responsiveness in the cortex, and that these two effects could be dissociated, showing that they are conveyed via separate pathways.

Next, researchers activated the terminals of the neurons' axons in the basal forebrain, a region that sends neuromodulatory projections to the visual cortex. Stimulation here also induced changes in the cortex, but without the intermediary step of running. Interestingly, the basal forebrain is known to use the neuromodulator acetycholine, which is often associated with alertness and attention.

It is unclear whether humans experience heightened visual perception while running, but the study adds to growing evidence that the processes governing active movement and sensory processing in the brain are tightly connected. Similar regions have been targeted in humans for therapeutic deep-brain stimulation to treat motor dysfunction in patients with Parkinson's disease. Activating this circuit might also provide a means to enhance neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to rewire itself.

Niell's team included Moses Lee, a visiting scholar at the UO and student in the M.D.-Ph.D. program at UC-San Francisco, who served as the lead author on the paper. "While it seems that moving and sensing are two independent processes, a lot of new research suggests that they are deeply coupled," Lee said. "My hope is that our study can help solidify our understanding of how the brain functions differently in 'alert' states."


'/>"/>

Contact: Lewis Taylor
lewist@uoregon.edu
541-346-2816
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Ken Bierly of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board to receive ESA Regional Policy Award
2. Oregon Biodiversity Information Center wins 2013 Natureserve Network Collaboration Award
3. Oregon researchers say supplement cuts muscle loss in knee replacements
4. Development near Oregon, Washington public forests
5. Oregon scientists offer new insights on controlling nanoparticle stability
6. Zebra fish fins help Oregon researchers gain insight into bone regeneration
7. Oregon researchers capture handoff of tracked object between brain hemispheres
8. Sea star disease epidemic surges in Oregon, local extinctions expected
9. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
10. Law that regulates shark fishery is too liberal: UBC study
11. New study will help protect vulnerable birds from impacts of climate change
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Oregon study details brain pathways linking visual function, running
(Date:6/23/2017)... N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, ... with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances that ... With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell University ... Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional ... in Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots will ... USA . The technology was developed and patented at ... IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment from ... click: ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... 2017   Bridge Patient Portal , an ... MD EMR Systems , an electronic medical record ... have established a partnership to build an interface ... GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution (CPS), ... These new integrations will allow healthcare delivery networks ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... September 19, 2017 , ... ... announced a partnership with Cytena GmbH to launch the CloneSelect™ Single-Cell Printer™ in ... analysis to isolate single cells and provide visual documentation of monoclonality for use ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... ... September 18, 2017 , ... Transportable biomass conversion ... and torrefied wood is the topic of a September 27 webinar ... economic viability of transportable biomass conversion facilities for producing biochar, briquettes, and torrefied ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... ... September 18, 2017 , ... ... business process optimization firm for the life sciences and healthcare industries, announces ... 2017 conference. , What: Digital Transformation in Medical Device – The Journey to ...
(Date:9/14/2017)... ... September 14, 2017 , ... ... flexible scientist program (FSP)-- a flexible business approach similar to a full-time ... SSCI’s extensive project-based analytical and solid-state chemistry services and expertise with flexible ...
Breaking Biology Technology: