Navigation Links
How does your brain tell time?

"Time" is the most popular noun in the English language, yet how would we tell time if we didn’t have access to the plethora of watches, clocks and cell phones at our disposal?

For decades, scientists have believed that the brain possesses an internal clock that allows it to keep track of time. Now a UCLA study in the Feb. 1 edition of Neuron proposes a new model in which a series of physical changes to the brain’s cells helps the organ to monitor the passage of time.

"The value of this research lies in understanding how the brain works," said Dean Buonomano, associate professor of neurobiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a member of the university’s Brain Research Institute. "Many complex human behaviors -- from understanding speech to playing catch to performing music -- rely on the brain’s ability to accurately tell time. Yet no one knows how the brain does it."

The most popular theory assumes that a clock-like mechanism ?which generates and counts regular fixed movements -- underlies timing in the brain. In contrast, Buonomano suggests a physical model that operates without using a clock. He offers an analogy to explain how it works.

"If you toss a pebble into a lake," he explained, "the ripples of water produced by the pebble’s impact act like a signature of the pebble’s entry time. The farther the ripples travel the more time has passed.

"We propose that a similar process takes place in the brain that allows it to track time," he added. "Every time the brain processes a sensory event, such as a sound or flash of light, it triggers a cascade of reactions between brain cells and their connections. Each reaction leaves a signature that enables the brain-cell network to encode time."

The UCLA team used a computer model to test this theory. By simulating a network of interconnected brain cells in which each connection changed over time in respo nse to stimuli, they were able to show that the network could tell time.

Their simulations indicated that a specific event is encoded within the context of events that precede it. In other words, if one could measure the response of many neurons in the brain to a tone or a flash of light, the response would not only reveal the nature of the event, but the other events that preceded it and when they occurred.

The UCLA team tested the model by asking research volunteers in the study to judge the interval between two auditory tones under a variety of different conditions. The researchers found that volunteers?sense of timing was impaired when the interval was randomly preceded by a "distracter" tone.

"Our results suggest that the timing mechanisms that underlie our ability to recognize speech and enjoy music are distributed throughout the brain, and do not resemble the conventional clocks we wear on our wrists," said Buonomano.

Because time-related information is critical to understanding speech, determining how the brain tells time represents an important step toward understanding the causes of diseases, such as dyslexia, that result in impaired linguistic abilities, he noted.

The next step for the research will be recording the response from a large number of brain cells to determine whether they encode information about the timing of stimuli.
'"/>

Source:University of California - Los Angeles


Related biology news :

1. Controversial drug shown to act on brain protein to cut alcohol use
2. Mouse brain cells rapidly recover after Alzheimers plaques are cleared
3. Mouse brain tumors mimic those in human genetic disorder
4. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
5. First atlas of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases
6. NYU study reveals how brains immune system fights viral encephalitis
7. Stem cells from brain transformed to produce insulin at Stanford
8. Birds brains reveal source of songs
9. Loves all in the brain: fMRI study shows strong, lateralized reward, not sex, drive
10. Revolutionary nanotechnology illuminates brain cells at work
11. A puzzle piece found in unraveling the wiring of the brain

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:12/7/2016)... According to a new market research report "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by ... Area, End User, And Region - Global Forecast to 2021", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... to USD 36.07 Billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) ... ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... Dec. 6, 2016  Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. (NYSE and ... an offering of €500.0 million principal amount of its 1.414% ... of its 2.425% senior unsecured notes due 2026. ... on December 13, 2016, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing ... The Company intends to use ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... , December 1, 2016 ... (Fingerprint, Voice), Future Technology (Iris Recognition System), Vehicle ... - Global Forecast to 2021", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... Million in 2016, and is projected to grow ... CAGR of 14.06%.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160303/792302) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/7/2016)... , Dec. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - Zenith Capital Corp. ("Zenith" ... that will be presented at the Company,s Annual and Special ... of Shareholders will take place on Thursday, December 15, 2016 ... Glenn Hall (Room EC1040), 4825 Mount Royal Gate SW, ... (MST). A notice of meeting and management information circular, containing ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... , Dec. 7, 2016  Vyriad Inc. announced ... to the company,s Board of Directors. "We ... we build our business and develop our oncolytic viruses ... therapy," said Stephen Russell , MD, PhD, CEO ... , share our vision and passion for making a ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... , December 7, 2016 Regen BioPharma ... International Journal of Molecular Sciences a team of scientists in ... ] have demonstrated that expression of NR2F6 in patients ... tested for NR2F6 in patient,s cervical cancer tissue as well ... "This is an interesting study and the first ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... December 07, 2016 , ... ... to an early access program for SmartBiome -- a novel metagenomic deep-sequencing ... simultaneous specific enrichment and detection of hundreds of different genes. The selective ...
Breaking Biology Technology: