Study illuminates the brain's inner workings

ScienceDaily | 4/3/2019 | Staff
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But which areas of the brain work in harmony to accomplish certain types of tasks? And how does this coordination vary from person to person?

A new study that will be published on April 3 in Science Advances explores these questions.

Research - Brain - Activity - Systems - Brain

The research focuses on brain activity associated with nine cognitive systems within the brain, each consisting of a network of brain regions linked to certain functions. The auditory system, for example, helps us process sound, whereas the ventral temporal association system is thought to help us recognize objects, faces, colors and more.

"We're using computational modeling to investigate the inner workings of the brain," says Sarah Muldoon, PhD, University at Buffalo assistant professor of mathematics. "When one region of the brain is stimulated, what other regions become active, and how do these patterns of synchronization get distributed across cognitive systems?"

Muldoon - Collaborative - Study - Kanika - Bansal

Muldoon led the collaborative study with Kanika Bansal, PhD, who completed the work as a joint postdoctoral mathematics researcher at UB and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL). Bansal is now a postdoctoral researcher with ARL and Columbia University.

Next, the scientists converted these maps into computational models of each subject's brain, and used computers to simulate what would happen when a single region of a person's brain was stimulated. The researchers then used a mathematical framework, which they developed, to measure how brain activity became synchronized across various cognitive systems in the simulations.

Study - Findings

The study had two broad findings:

Large-scale patterns in brain activity may vary widely from person to person when certain cognitive systems are activated. In contrast, activation of other cognitive systems may result in repeatable patterns across individuals.

Computer - Simulations - Patterns - Brain - Activity

To explain further: In computer simulations, the patterns of brain activity that emerged when some cognitive systems were stimulated were highly stable across different people. This held true, for example, for the auditory and...
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