When one side does not know about the other one

March 01, 2012

Whenever we are doing something, one of our brain hemispheres is more active than the other one. However, some tasks are only solvable with both sides working together. PD Dr. Martina Manns and Juliane Römling of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum are investigating, how such specializations and co-operations arise. Based on a pigeon-model, they are proving for the first time in an experimental way, that the ability to combine complex impressions from both hemispheres, depends on environmental factors in the embryonic stage. The results of the study are published online in Nature Communications.

Biased light stimulation

Within the egg bird embryos always turn their head in such a way that one eye is turned close to the eggshell, and the other one is covered by the body. This causes an asymmetrical light stimulation, which influences developmental processes in both brain halves. PD Dr. Manns uses this mechanism for her experiment. One group of embryos hatch in a lighted incubator, another one in complete darkness. Afterwards the scientists analyze the degree of interhemispheric communication in both groups. The results show that information exchange is impaired without light-stimulation. This research sheds light on the origin of communication processes in the brain. Developmental disorders like ADHD or autism are characterized by a deviating pattern between the two brain halves. Therefore, there is a possibility that the results may help to understand those disorders and give hints for new therapeutic approaches.

Classification of colour-pairs

To determine how efficient the animals are able to handle incoming information, Manns and Römling confront the animals with a task that can only be solved with both brain hemispheres working together. For that purpose, the two psychologists use colour-pairs of a transitive line (A>B>C>D>E) at which one of the elements is rewarded with food. First the pigeons have to learn to discriminate the combinations A/B and B/C with one eye, and C/D and D/E with the other one. Afterwards, they can use both eyes to decide between, for example, the colours B/D. However, only birds with embryonic light experience are able to solve this problem.
-end-
Bibliographic record

M. Manns, J. Römling (2012): The impact of asymmetrical light input on cerebral hemispheric specialization and interhemispheric cooperation, Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/ncomms1699

Further information

PD Dr. Martina Manns, Biopsychology, Faculty of Psychology at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum, 0234/32-24634, Martina.Manns@rub.de

Links

Faculty of Psychology, Biopsychology
http://www.bio.psy.rub.de/members_martina.html

Editorial journalist: Marie-Astrid Reinartz

Ruhr-University Bochum

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.