Nav: Home

There's a close association between magnetic systems and certain states of brain activity

March 13, 2017

Scientists from the University of Granada (UGR) have proven for the first time that there is a close relationship between several emerging phenomena in magnetic systems (greatly studied by condensed matter physicists) and certain states of brain activity.

The researchers, who have published their work in the journal Neural Networks, have studied a brain model consisting of a balanced neuronal network with 80% excitatory synapses (that is, neuronal connections that favor the transmission of information between neurons) and 20% inhibitor synapses (neuronal connections which prevent said information from being transmitted).

Interestingly, the initial objective of the UGR scientists was to study how the autistic brain works, for which they intended to develop a mathematical model that would allow the neuronal connections of this disease to be analyzed.

However, as their research progressed they were able to demonstrate, both mathematically and through computer simulations, the existence of a type of state called "spin glass" in said system, which corresponds to states of low activity (Down) or high activity (Up). This has been widely described in the cortex of mammals, including the human brain.

The so called spin-glass states are magnetic systems that have been extensively described in low temperature disordered magnetic materials and also appear in artificial neural network models.

Spin-glass states are frozen disordered spin states due to frustration in the interactions between spins (physical property of subatomic particles, by which every elementary particle carries an intrinsic angular momentum whose value is fixed). Said states can be both ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic, preventing the system from relaxing to the ground state or causing very long relaxation times.

In neuroscience, on the other hand, the spin-glass states manifest themselves by a frozen neuronal activity, and they appear (in the absence of thermal fluctuations or noise) due to the interference produced by the memorization of a macroscopic number of memories and the impossibility to discern among so many of them in the memory process.

In this paper, researchers have proven for the first time the constructive role and functionality of a particular type of spin-glass state in neuroscience. "In fact, we have proven both theoretically and through simulation that the Up and Down states observed in the activity of mammal brains would be but a mere manifestation of these spin-glass states", Joaquín Torres Agudo, professor from the Department of Electromagnetism and Physics of the Matter at the UGR and lead author of the study, explains.

This work constitutes an appropriate and novel theoretical framework to study the biological mechanisms of destabilization of these states that can induce transitions between Up and Down states, similar to the transitions commonly described during anesthesia processes or in the transition from wakefulness to sleep.
-end-


University of Granada

Related Neuroscience Articles:

Diabetes-Alzheimer's link explored at Neuroscience 2019
Surprising links exist between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, and researchers are beginning to unpack the pathology that connects the two.
Organoid research revealed at Neuroscience 2019
Mini-brains, also called organoids, may offer breakthroughs in clinical research by allowing scientists to study human brain cells without a human subject.
The neuroscience of autism: New clues for how condition begins
UNC School of Medicine scientists found that a gene mutation linked to autism normally works to organize the scaffolding of brain cells called radial progenitors necessary for the orderly formation of the brain.
Harnessing reliability for neuroscience research
Neuroscientists are amassing the large-scale datasets needed to study individual differences and identify biomarkers.
Blue Brain solves a century-old neuroscience problem
In a front-cover paper published in Cerebral Cortex, EPFL's Blue Brain Project, a Swiss Brain Research Initiative, explains how the shapes of neurons can be classified using mathematical methods from the field of algebraic topology.
Characterizing pig hippocampus could improve translational neuroscience
Researchers have taken further steps toward developing a superior animal model of neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury and epilepsy, according to a study of miniature pigs published in eNeuro.
The neuroscience of human vocal pitch
Among primates, humans are uniquely able to consciously control the pitch of their voices, making it possible to hit high notes in singing or stress a word in a sentence to convey meaning.
Study tackles neuroscience claims to have disproved 'free will'
For several decades, some researchers have argued that neuroscience studies prove human actions are driven by external stimuli -- that the brain is reactive and free will is an illusion.
New approaches in neuroscience show it's not all in your head
Our own unique experiences shape how we view the world and respond to the events in our lives.
The neuroscience of cuttlefish camouflage
Unlike squid, bottom-dwelling cuttlefish may be able to put one key aspect of their camouflage on autopilot.
More Neuroscience News and Neuroscience Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.