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:

Three ways neuroscience can advance the concussion debate
While concussion awareness has improved over the past decade, understanding the nuances of these sports injuries, their severity, symptoms, and treatment, is still a work in progress.
Study shows rapid growth in neuroscience research
A study of the impact and research topics of neuroscience papers from 2006-2015 has shown that the number of neuroscience papers and highly-productive core neuroscience journals has grown, while psychology and behavioral sciences have become more popular research areas.
CNS 2017: Big Ideas in Cognitive Neuroscience
Press registration is now open for the Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual conference, March 25-28, 2017, in San Francisco, CA, at the Hyatt Regency.
Jounrnal of Neuroscience: Highlights from the November 9 issue
Check out these newsworthy symposia featured in the Nov. 9, 2016, issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
Awards event to recognize heroes of green and open neuroscience
On Monday, November 14, at 6:30 p.m., the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and the founders of the Green Neuroscience Laboratory will recognize individuals and organizations that help forward the principles and culture of Green and Open Neuroscience.
Robotic cleaning technique could automate neuroscience research
For scientists listening in on the faint whispers of brain neurons, a first-ever robotic technique for cleaning the tiny devices that record the signals could facilitate a new level of automation in neuroscience research.
29th ECNP Congress for Applied and Translational Neuroscience
Europe's largest meeting in applied and translational neuroscience, the 29th ECNP Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) will take place at the Austria Center Vienna from Sept.
Neuroscience 2016 media registration now open
San Diego becomes the epicenter of neuroscience in November as 30,000 researchers, clinicians, and advocates from around the world gather November 12-16 to explore and share the latest developments in brain research.
A vision for revamping neuroscience education
The expanding scope and growing number of tools used for neuroscience is moving beyond what is taught in traditional graduate programs, say leaders in American neuroscience education, funding, and policy.
Is educational neuroscience a waste of money?
Educational neuroscience has little to offer schools or children's education, according to new research from the University of Bristol, UK.

Related Neuroscience Reading:

Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain
by Mark F. Bear (Author), Barry W. Connors (Author), Michael A. Paradiso (Author)

Neuroscience
by Dale Purves (Editor), George J. Augustine (Editor), David Fitzpatrick (Editor), William C. Hall (Editor), Anthony-Samuel LaMantia (Editor), Richard D. Mooney (Editor), Michael L. Platt (Editor), Leonard E. White (Editor)

Foundational Concepts in Neuroscience: A Brain-Mind Odyssey (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)
by David E. Presti PhD (Author)

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
by Robert M. Sapolsky (Author)

Cognitive Neuroscience
by Marie T. Banich (Author), Rebecca J. Compton (Author)

Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions (Series in Affective Science)
by Jaak Panksepp (Author)

Neuroscience: Fundamentals for Rehabilitation
by Laurie Lundy-Ekman PhD PT (Author)

Neuroscience For Dummies
by Frank Amthor (Author)

Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind, 4th Edition
by Michael S. Gazzaniga (Author), Richard B. Ivry (Author), George R. Mangun (Author)

Neuroscience for Counselors and Therapists: Integrating The Sciences Of Mind And Brain
by Chad C. Luke (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Approaching With Kindness
We often forget to say the words "thank you." But can those two words change how you — and those around you — look at the world? This hour, TED speakers on the power of gratitude and appreciation. Guests include author AJ Jacobs, author and former baseball player Mike Robbins, Dr. Laura Trice, Professor of Management Christine Porath, and former Danish politician Özlem Cekic.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#509 Anisogamy: The Beginning of Male and Female
This week we discuss how the sperm and egg came to be, and how a difference of reproductive interest has led to sexual conflict in bed bugs. We'll be speaking with Dr. Geoff Parker, an evolutionary biologist credited with developing a theory to explain the evolution of two sexes, about anisogamy, sexual reproduction through the fusion of two different gametes: the egg and the sperm. Then we'll speak with Dr. Roberto Pereira, research scientist in urban entomology at the University of Florida, about traumatic insemination in bed bugs.