Navigation Links
Researchers capture wave of brain activity linked to anticipation

WASHINGTON, D.C. Neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center have, for the first time, shown what brain activity looks like when someone anticipates an action or sensory input which soon follows.

In the February 25 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, they say this neural clairvoyance involves strong activity in areas of the brain responsible for preparing the body to move.

The findings were made by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a group of student volunteers who brought with them favorite music CDs. The scientists examined brain images during the silence between songs, and found it brimming with activity. Other students who listened to music they had never heard in sequence before did not have that same neural bustle.

"This now explains how it is that, even before an anticipated song is actually heard, a person can start to tap fingers, dance, or sing to the music they imagine is coming next," says Josef Rauschecker, PhD, director of the Program in Cognitive and Computational Sciences (PICCS), at Georgetown University Medical Center.

While it makes sense that song sequences can be memorized and thus anticipated by a listener, no one before has ever documented the brain activity that is underway in the silence between songs, he says.

"The brain is all about anticipation and prediction, yet no one has shown what that looks like in terms of neural action," says Rauschecker.

He adds that this same process, known as cued associative learning, likely occurs whenever a human is expecting any particular action to happen, be it in sports, music, or language.

"It is how a skier is mentally prepared to go down a familiar course during the Olympics, or how a piano player knows to move fingers along the keyboard to hit the next correct key," Rauschecker says.

This sounds simple, but it isn't, he says. "It is not trivial to store a temporal sequence in the brain, because the brain doesn't have any moving parts like a tape recorder or CD player. The whole brain needs to be involved because it has to be ready to execute that sequence. "

In the students who knew the order of songs on their CD, the researchers found that during the anticipatory silence between the songs excitatory signals passed from the prefrontal cortex to the nearby premotor cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the brain's "executive" center, which plans and orchestrates complex cognitive behaviors. The premotor cortex and its associated systems, which include the basal ganglia and the cerebellum, is involved in preparing the body to act perhaps to move or to sing.

"These structures are involved in both thinking and acting, and it appears that music patterns are being stored and learned here," Rauschecker says.

"We hadn't anticipated that," he adds with a laugh. "We didn't know the premotor areas would be involved."

All animals have some ability to cognitively predict motor activity, he says. "That's why a bird can sing. But humans are the most associative of animals, which is why we have such a large prefrontal cortex. We have a lot of sequences that we need to store in order to predict what we should do."


Contact: Karen Mallet
Georgetown University Medical Center

Related biology news :

1. UMMS researchers publish DNA identification of czars children
2. Researchers win award for best clinical paper in orthopedic physical therapy
3. Researchers uncover obesity gene involved in weight gain response to high-fat diet
4. Researchers generate functional neurons from somatic cells
5. UNH researchers studying spiny dogfish, Gulf of Maines mini shark
6. UT Southwestern researchers identify molecule that helps the sleep-deprived to mentally rebound
7. Case Western Reserve researchers develop wireless activation of brain circuits
8. Caltech and UCSD researchers shed light on how proteins find their shapes
9. Researchers call for nitrogen and phosphorus reductions to combat eutrophication in aquatic systems
10. Researchers explore new driver of transplant rejection: Platelets
11. Forget the antioxidants? McGill researchers cast doubt on role of free radicals in aging
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/23/2017)... first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional motor sense evaluation of ... Italy . The first 30 robots will be available from June ... . The technology was developed and patented at the IIT laboratories and ... thanks to a 10 million euro investment from entrepreneur Sergio Dompè. ... ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... New York , April 19, 2017 ... competitive, as its vendor landscape is marked by the ... the market is however held by five major players ... Safran. Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% of ... of the leading companies in the global military biometrics ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a ... authentication solutions, today announced that it has been ... Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation ... "Innovation has been a driving force ... program will allow us to innovate and develop ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... At its national board meeting ... I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief research scientist of Minnesota-based Advanced Space ... membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame . ASTER Labs is a ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... 2017  VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider of patient support ... Nurse Educator (CNE) network, which will launch this week. The ... health care professionals to enhance the patient care experience by ... other health care professionals to help women who have been ... ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, Lajollacooks4u, has ... The bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, appeal to ... period. , It will also expand its service offering from its signature gourmet cooking ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... CRUZ, Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 ... grant from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), ... kit for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single ... Analysis Program highlights the need to accelerate development of ... "New techniques for measuring ...
Breaking Biology Technology: