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Knowing how information is transmitted in the brain will help treat neurodegenerative diseases

When scientists began in the early 20th century, the Brain activity using electrodes, they noticed signals they called "brain waves." Since then they have been the subject of intensive research. We know that waves are a manifestation of synchronized neuronal activity and that changes in wave intensity indicate decreasing or increasing activity of groups of Neurons represent. The question is whether and how these waves are involved in the transmission of information.

That question was answered by Tal Dalal, a PhD student at Bar-Ilan University's Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center. From a paper published in Cell Reports, researchers found that the degree of synchronization of the brainwaves in the field of information transmission have changed. They then examined how this affected the transmission of the information and how it was understood by the area of ​​the brain that it reached.

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The researchers focused on the part of the Brain, which controls the olfactory system. It is characterized by a strong activity of brain waves, the synchronization of which is responsible for a certain type of neurons in this region. The scientists used optogenetic methods that allow them to switch neuronal activity on and off using pulses of light. This allowed them to observe how switching synchronization on and off in one region affected the transmission of information to another area of ​​the brain.

The manipulation occurred at the point (let's call it the initial region) where the first processing of information from the olfactory system takes place. From there, the information, synchronized or unsynchronized, passed to the next area (Region II) where higher-level processing takes place.

The researchers found that increasing the Synchronization of the Neurons in the exit region led to a significant improvement in the information transmission and processing rate in region II. On the other hand, if the degree of synchronization was reduced, incomplete information reached region II.

The researchers also made an unexpected discovery. Surprisingly, they found that the Activation the one for them Synchronization the verantwortlich Neurons led to a decrease in overall activity in the source region, so one would expect less information to reach Region II. However, the fact that the output was more synchronized compensated for the lower activity and even made for better transmission, says Dalal.

The authors of the study therefore concluded that synchronization is extremely important for information transmission and processing. This in turn could explain why reduced neuronal synchronization, which manifests itself in a lower intensity of brain waves, can lead to the cognitive deficits that are found, for example, in the Alzheimer's disease appear. Previous studies have shown that there is an association between reduced synchrony and neurodegenerative diseases, but we didn't know why. Now we have shown that the Synchronization involved in the transmission and processing of information, so this could be the reason for the deficits seen in the patients," says Dalal.

Dalal and Professor Rafi Haddad's research could lead to new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. It cannot be ruled out that in the future it will be possible to correctly synchronize the brainwaves restore in patients.