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NeuroImage: Multiplexing in the visual brain
Date:3/24/2011

This press release is available in German.

"Neurons synchronize with different partners at different frequencies" says Dr. Dirk Jancke, Neuroscientist at the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany. A new imaging technique enabled to show that such functioning results in distinct activity patterns overlaid in primary visual cortex. These patterns individually signal motion direction, speed, and orientation of object contours within the same network at the same time. Together with colleagues at the University of Osnabrck, the Bochum scientists successfully visualized such brain multiplexing using a modern real-time optical imaging method that exploits a specific voltage-sensitive dye.

Imaging with voltage-sensitive dye: A method to capture real-time brain dynamics

The dye incorporates in the brain cells' membrane and changes fluorescence whenever these receive or send electrical signals. Hence, high resolution camera systems allow to simultaneously capture activities of millions of nerve cells across several square millimeters across the brain.

First-time visualization of grating pattern motion across the brain surface

As a stimulus the researchers used simple oriented gratings with alternating black-white stripes drifting at constant speed across a monitor screen. These stimuli have been used for more than 50 years in visual neuroscience and still are conventionally applied in medical diagnostics. However, brain activity that signals both the grating's orientation and its motion simultaneously has not been detected so far. Such signals could now be demonstrated for the first time. Note that further computational steps including sophisticated analysis were needed before those smallest brain activity signals became visible.

Cortical mapping of object orientation

Optical imaging became stat
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Contact: Dr. Dirk Jancke
jancke@neurobiologie.rub.de
49-234-322-7845
Ruhr-University Bochum
Source:Eurekalert  

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