Personnel Management in the Brain: Brain Cells Shift Affiliations

August 27, 1996

REHOVOT, ISRAEL, AUGUST 15, 1996...The brain acts like a dynamic personnel manager, constantly shifting its "workers" functions ever-changing demands, according to a Weizmann Institute study published this month in Advances in *Processing and Pattern Analysis of Biological Signals*.

The study disproves the prevailing notion that nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain either act on their own or form permanent working groups. Instead, neurons were shown to belong to a number of different groups and to change their momentary affiliation in accordance with the task to be performed, thus coordinating the processes involved in seeing, hearing and movement control.

Using a groundbreaking technique that makes it possible to record the electrical activity of many individual neurons at the same time, Prof. Ad Aertsen of the Neurobiology Department and colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have shown that two neurons may closely communicate with each other when processing one type of signal, but completely ignore each other when responding to another kind.

If these findings are corroborated, they will have implications for such fields as neurology, where it is vital to know how a task carried out by one set of neurons may affect the function of other brain cells, and computer science, branches of which deal with simultaneous processing of information flowing along multiple paths.

Prof. Aertsen collaborated with Prof. Eilon Vaadia of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and the Center for Neural Computation, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's foremost centers of scientific research and graduate study. Its 2,400 scientists, students, technicians, and engineers pursue basic research in the quest for knowledge and the enhancement of the human condition. New ways of fighting disease and hunger, protecting the environment, and harnessing alternative sources of energy are high priorities.


For press in the U.S., contact: Julie Osler (212) 779-2500
Director of Public Affairs
American Committee for the
Weizmann Institute of Science
(212) 779-2500
JULIE@ACWIS.ORG CompuServe: 76675,366

For foreign press, contact: Luba Vikhanski
Acting Head, Foreign Press and Publications
Weizmann Institute of Science
Rehovot, Israel
011 972 8 934 3855

American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science

Related Neurons Articles from Brightsurf:

Paying attention to the neurons behind our alertness
The neurons of layer 6 - the deepest layer of the cortex - were examined by researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University to uncover how they react to sensory stimulation in different behavioral states.

Trying to listen to the signal from neurons
Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a coaxial cable-inspired needle-electrode.

A mechanical way to stimulate neurons
Magnetic nanodiscs can be activated by an external magnetic field, providing a research tool for studying neural responses.

Extraordinary regeneration of neurons in zebrafish
Biologists from the University of Bayreuth have discovered a uniquely rapid form of regeneration in injured neurons and their function in the central nervous system of zebrafish.

Dopamine neurons mull over your options
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba have found that dopamine neurons in the brain can represent the decision-making process when making economic choices.

Neurons thrive even when malnourished
When animal, insect or human embryos grow in a malnourished environment, their developing nervous systems get first pick of any available nutrients so that new neurons can be made.

The first 3D map of the heart's neurons
An interdisciplinary research team establishes a new technological pipeline to build a 3D map of the neurons in the heart, revealing foundational insight into their role in heart attacks and other cardiac conditions.

Mapping the neurons of the rat heart in 3D
A team of researchers has developed a virtual 3D heart, digitally showcasing the heart's unique network of neurons for the first time.

How to put neurons into cages
Football-shaped microscale cages have been created using special laser technologies.

A molecule that directs neurons
A research team coordinated by the University of Trento studied a mass of brain cells, the habenula, linked to disorders like autism, schizophrenia and depression.

Read More: Neurons News and Neurons Current Events 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