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Scientists discover how best to excite brain cells
Date:7/8/2011

neurons are more complex than that. They can search for more than one signal at the same time, and their choice of signal depends on what else is competing for their attention.

"We found that a neuron can prefer one signal---call it signal A---when compared with a certain group of signals, and a different signal---call it signal B---when compared with another group of signals," Forger said. This is true even when signal A and signal B aren't at all alike.

The findings could contribute in two main ways to the design and use of brain implants in treating neurological disorders.

"First, our results determine the optimal signals to stimulate a neuron," Forger said. "These signals are much more effective and require less battery power than what is currently used." Such efficiency would translate into less frequent surgery to replace batteries in patients with brain implants.

"Second, we found that the optimal stimulus is context-dependent," he said, "so the best signal will differ, depending on the part of the brain where the implant is placed."


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Contact: Nancy Ross-Flanigan
rossflan@umich.edu
734-647-1853
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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