[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 2-Jun-2011
[ | E-mail Share Share ]

Contact: Bratislav Mišić
bmisic@rotman-baycrest.on.ca
Public Library of Science

Examining the brain as a neural information super-highway

An article demonstrating how tools for modeling traffic on the Internet and telephone systems can be used to study information flow in brain networks will be published in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology on 2nd June 2011.

The brain functions as a complex system of regions that must communicate with each other to enable everyday activities such as perception and cognition. This need for networked computation is a challenge common to multiple types of communication systems. Thus, important questions about how information is routed and emitted from individual brain regions may be addressed by drawing parallels with other well-known types of communication systems, such as the Internet.

The authors, from the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Centre, Toronto, Canada, showed that – similar to other communication networks – the timing pattern of information emission is highly indicative of information traffic flow through the network. In this study the output of information was sensitive to subtle differences between individual subjects, cognitive states and brain regions.

The researchers recorded electrical activity from the brain and used signal processing techniques to precisely determine exactly when units of information get emitted from different regions. They then showed that the times between successive departures are distributed according to a specific distribution. For instance, when research study participants were asked to open their eyes in order to allow visual input, emission times became significantly more variable in parts of the brain responsible for visual processing, reflecting and indicating increased neural "traffic" through the underlying brain regions.

This method can be broadly applied in neuroscience and may potentially be used to study the effects of neural development and aging, as well as neurodegenerative disease, where traffic flow would be compromised by the loss of certain nodes or disintegration of pathways.

###

Funding: This research was funded by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Santa Fe Institute Consortium to TP and a J.S. McDonnel Foundation grant to ARM. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Citation: Mišić B, Vakorin VA, Kovačević N, Paus T, McIntosh AR (2011) Extracting Message Inter-Departure Time Distributions from the Human Electroencephalogram. PLoS Comput Biol 7(6): e1002065. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002065

CONTACT:
Bratislav Mišić
Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Centre,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Email: bmisic@rotman-baycrest.on.ca

Disclaimer

This press release refers to an upcoming article in PLoS Computational Biology. The release is provided by journal staff, or by the article authors and/or their institutions. Any opinions expressed in this release or article are the personal views of the journal staff and/or article contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the releases and articles and your use of such information.

Media Permissions

PLoS Journals publish under a Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/), which permits free reuse of all materials published with the article, so long as the work is cited (e.g., Kaltenbach LS et al. (2007) Huntingtin Interacting Proteins Are Genetic Modifiers of Neurodegeneration. PLoS Genet 3(5): e82. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030082). No prior permission is required from the authors or publisher. For queries about the license, please contact the relative journal contact indicated here: http://www.plos.org/journals/embargopolicy.php

About PLoS Computational Biology

PLoS Computational Biology (www.ploscompbiol.org) features works of exceptional significance that further our understanding of living systems at all scales through the application of computational methods. All works published in PLoS Computational Biology are open access. Everything is immediately available subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. Copyright is retained.

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org.



[ Back to EurekAlert! ] [ | E-mail Share Share ]

 


AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.