Celebrity Photos Help Researchers Study Brain Leave a comment

June 22, 2005 — Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston often show up on magazine covers, but presently they’re in new domain — the pages of the journal Nature and maybe even your possess brain.

The stars — in conjunction with Julia Roberts and Kobe Bryant — didn’t team up for a unused movie or open benefit ad. Instead, their images, or indeed only their names, got best charging within the most recent venture by Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, PhD.

Quiroga isn’t a hot modern executive in Hollywood. He’s a bioengineering teacher at England’s University of Leicester. Quiroga worked on the study whereas at the California Established of Innovation (Caltech) and UCLA.

Quiroga and colleagues observed single brain cells rev up when people saw pictures of certain celebrities or famous points of interest, just like the Sydney Opera House or Italy’s leaning tower of Pisa. The findings may cast brain cells in a modern light.

The analysts looked at how our brains prepare visual data and long-term memory. They also looked at what part diverse brain locales and cells play in translating images.

Star Power Meets the Brain

Quiroga’s think about included eight epilepsy patients. All had terminals embedded in their brains to find the origin of their seizures.

The consider had nothing to do with epilepsy. Instep, the cathodes came in helpful for another reason. The patients agreed to let the terminals be utilized to screen individual brain cells or brain regions whereas the pictures were appeared.

Everybody was a bit different. They had cathodes in several parts of an area of the brain related to memory and one of the primary brain ranges to waver when Alzheimer’s malady strikes.

In one individual, anode readings spiked in a single brain cell when images related to Halle Berry came up. For another individual, an anode in a different area terminated up when pictures of Jennifer Aniston were shown. Someone else had a brain cell that responded to pictures of the Sydney Opera House.

Picky, Picky, Picky

The individual brain cells were very specific about the images to which they responded. For occurrence, the cell that reacted to pictures of Jennifer Aniston couldn’t care less around images that moreover included Brad Pitt.

The neuron focused on Halle Berry responded to her Catwoman movie costume and indeed the letters of her title. But when Catwoman pictures disconnected to Berry were shown, the cell didn’t take the bait. It didn’t react the same way it had for all things Berry.

Other individual brain cells reacted selectively to images of animals (creepy crawlies, seals, or steeds) or particular nourishments, say the analysts.

Resisting a Stereotype

Fixation with celebrity wasn’t the study’s point. Instead, the scientists wanted to learn more about how the brain recognizes images with lightning-fast speed.

The findings may allow the brain cell an image makeover. Clearly, brain cells, or neurons, have been typecast erroneously, says researcher Christof Koch, PhD, in a news release.

“Our discoveries fly in the face of customary thinking about how brain cells work,” says Koch, a Caltech teacher of computation and neural systems. “Routine shrewdness views person brain cells as basic switches or transfers,” he says. “In truth, we are finding that neurons are able to function more like a modern computer.”

Future Applications?

“This unused understanding of person neurons as ‘thinking cells’ is an critical step toward cracking the brain’s cognition code,” says Itzhak Fried, MD, PhD, in the news release.

“As our understanding grows, we one day may be able to construct cognitive prostheses to replace capacities misplaced due to brain harm or infection, maybe indeed for memory,” says Fricasseed, a UCLA teacher of neurosurgery, psychiatry, and behavioral sciences.

The responses may have been based more in memory than vision, and feelings about the images may also be included, say the researchers.

In a Nature editorial, Charles Connor, PhD, writes that he questions that anyone would have predicted such a striking confirmation at the level of individual neurons. Connor works in Johns Hopkins University’s neuroscience office and the Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Founded.

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