Researchers from the University College of London have devised a way which can help to map the connections between the neurons present in the brain and their functions simultaneously, for the first time. Can you imagine what can this lead to?
A Computer Model of the Human Brain May Soon be a RealityResearchers from the University College of London have devised a way which can help to map the connections between the neurons present in the brain and their functions simultaneously, for the first time. Can you imagine what can this lead to? It effectively means that a computer model of the human brain can soon be a reality.
Now, researchers from the University College of London under the leadership of Tom Mrsic Flogel have presented a procedure in the latest issue of the journal “Nature”, wherein they claim to have been able to associate the functions of the nerve cells with their connections in the brain of mice.
This particular study focused on the response of the visual cortex of mice to light. The scientists gave a particular stimulus to the neurons of the visual cortex and were able to identify the set of neurons responding to this stimulus. They took the help of high resolution imaging to achieve this. The scientists then took a slice of the same tissue and stimulated the tissue with small subsets of current. They were able to trace the synaptic connections of the neurons responding to the stimulus. By repeating the procedure over and over again, they were able to map the connectivity of the hundreds of neurons present in the visual cortex of mice and their response to different stimuli.
Mapping the Brain’s Connections and Relating Them to Different Stimuli Can be a Big BreakthroughThe human brain is the most flexible and organized machine known to mankind. There are about one hundred billion neurons in the human brain, forming about 150 trillion synaptic connections with the other nerve cells. The brain extracts, processes and integrates information at the level of neurons. Mapping the brain’s connections and relating them to different stimuli can be a big breakthrough. Understanding the function of each neuron and tracing its inter-neuronal connectivity can give us an idea about the different electrical circuits of the brain and how they function. The scientists hope to generate the wiring diagrams of different parts of the brain responding to different types of stimuli, e.g. sound, touch, etc. This may lead to the development of a computer model of the human brain, illustrating the working of this highly complex and yet marvelous organ, which has been a challenge to the scientists for a long time.
The repercussions of developing a working model of brain will be enormous in the medical field. This will help the scientists to understand the flow of information through the innumerable neuronal connections present in the brain. A day will come when the scientists will be able to pin point what exactly goes wrong in the brain that leads to development of conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.