Navigation Links
Tapping the brain orchestra

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) and Forschungszentrum Jlich in Germany have developed a new method for detailed analyses of electrical activity in the brain. The method, recently published in Neuron, can help doctors and researchers to better interpret brain cell signals. In turn, this may lead to considerable steps forward in terms of interpreting for example EEG measurements, making diagnoses and treatment of various brain illnesses.

Researchers and doctors have been measuring and interpreting electrical activity generated by brain cells since 1875. Doctors have over the years acquired considerable practical skills in relating signal shapes to different brain illnesses such as epilepsy. However, doctors have so far had little knowledge on how these signals are formed in the network of nerve cells.

"Based on methods from physics, mathematics and informatics, as well as computational power from the Stallo supercomputer in Troms, we have developed detailed mathematical models revealing the connection between nerve cell activity and the electrical signal recorded by an electrode," says Professor Gaute Einevoll at the Department of Mathematical Sciences and Technology (IMT) at UMB.

Microphone in a crowd

The problem of interpreting electrical signals measured by electrodes in the brain is similar to that of interpreting sound signals measures by a microphone in a crowd of people. Just like people sometimes all talk at once, nerve cells are also sending signals "on top of each other".

The electrode records the sounds from the whole orchestra of nerve cells surrounding it and there are numerous contributors. One cubic millimetre can contain as many as 100,000 nerve cells.

Treble and bass

Similar to bass and treble in a soundtrack, high and low frequency electrical signals are distinguished in the brain.

"This project has focused on the bass - the low frequency signals called "local field potential" or simply LFP. We have found that if nerve cells are babbling randomly on top of each other and out of sync, the electrode's reach is narrow so that it can only receive signals from nerve cells less than about 0.3 millimetres away. However, when nerve cells are speaking simultaneously and in sync, the range can be much wider," Einevoll says.

Large treatment potential

Better understanding of the electrical brain signals may directly influence diagnosing and treatment of illnesses such as epilepsy.

"Electrodes are already being used to measure brain cell activity related to seizures in epilepsy patients, as well as planning surgical procedures. In the future, LFP signals measured by implanted electrodes could detect an impending epilepsy seizure and stop it by injecting a suitable electrical current," Einevoll says.

"A similar technique is being used on many Parkinson's patients, who have had electrodes surgically implanted to prevent trembling," Researcher Klas Pettersen at UMB adds.

Einevoll and Pettersen also outline treatment of patients paralysed by spinal cord fracture as another potential area where the method can be used.

"When a patient is paralysed, nerve cells in the cerebral cortex continue to send out signals, but the signals do not reach the muscles, and the patient is thus unable to move arms or legs. By monitoring the right nerve cells and forwarding these signals to for example a robot arm, the patient may be able to steer by his or her thoughts alone," Einevoll says.

The Computational Neuroscience Group at UMB has already established contacts with clinical research groups in the USA and Europe for further research on using the approach in patient treatment.


Contact: Professor Gaute Einevoll
Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Related medicine news :

1. Tapping to Music May Help You Hear It
2. When fingers start tapping, the music must be striking a chord
3. "Miracle" Tapping Technique EFT Found to Help Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma and Pain in Reduced Timescales. Workshops Now Offered
4. Tapping into sorghums weed-fighting capabilities to give growers more options
5. Tapping away desire for those favorite foods and snacks
6. Uncovering how cerebral malaria damages the brain
7. Taxi Drivers Show How Learning Changes Adult Brain
8. Brain tsunamis are clue to helping victims of major head injuries
9. Drug reverses aging-associated changes in brain cells
10. Century-old brains may hold future of treatment for mentally ill, Indiana University pathologist says
11. Study finds headaches after traumatic brain injury highest in adolescents and girls
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Tapping the brain orchestra
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... An inventor, from Hopkinsville, Ky., thought ... at home, so he invented the patent-pending ELECTRONIC M.D. , The ELECTRONIC M.D. ... doing so, it could help to prevent potential overdose situations. As a result, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Lizzie’s Lice Pickers just announced a ... customers 10% off of their purchase of lice treatment product. In addition, customers will ... to a company spokesperson. “Finding lice is a sure way to ruin the holidays, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ProSidebar: ... in Final Cut Pro X. With ProSidebar: Fasion, video editors can easily add ... ProSidebar as a minimalist title opener. Utilize presets featuring self-animating drop zones, lines, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Consistent with the Radiology ... Building Better Radiology Marketing Programs meeting will showcase some of the best ... at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a pre-conference session on a collaborative ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... A simply groundbreaking television ... an interesting show that delves into an array of issues that are presently affecting ... benefit from open dialogue, this show is changing the subjects consumers focus on, one ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , Nov. 26, 2015 Research ... addition of the "2016 Future Horizons and ... (TDM) Market: Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive ... --> --> ... analysis of the Japanese therapeutic drug monitoring market, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... the "2016 Future Horizons and Growth ... Testing Market: Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, ... their offering. --> ) ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ... European Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) Market: ... Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities"  report to their ... has announced the addition of the  ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: