Silent Cells Play Important Role in Brain Behavior.
NEW RESEARCH CONDUCTED in laboratory rats is challenging the assumption that the most active brain cells are also the most important in controlling behavior.
The study, published in the journal eLife, tracked brain cell activity in two regions of the cerebral cortex in lab rats, an area of the brain that controls how tasks are performed.
Of the 200 monitored brain cells, 60 percent appeared to be quiet as the rats pushed a button in response to a particular tone for a food treat. However, further computer analysis showed that the least-active neurons fired at the same time as more active brain cells in anticipation of a reward.
"Just because there might be 'hot spots' of brain activity localized to specific areas, that doesn't mean that the millions or billions of other neurons aren't doing something else too," said Robert Froemke, study senior investigator and a neuroscientist at the NYU School of Medicine. "We're applying this finding to brain-machine interfaces and neuroprosthetic devices, like cochlear implants."