Monday, 9 June 2014

Our beautiful brains



When I first read the article entitled "Spatially Distributed Local Fields in the Hippocampus Encode Rat Position" (link is subscription only, and I cant wait for the day of free access for everyone) I was shocked at what I was reading. In fact, I almost blogged about this earlier as the title and my first reading was telling me things that were not making sense yet still fascinating. However, I withheld and read the manuscript again a few times to try get a better comprehension.

Caveat of my idiocy: I almost thought this article was saying that position is somehow remembered in a specific part of the brain. This means that somehow the mouse was able to locate itself without ever having been in a location before. Luckily, I reread and reread.

Back to the topic, what these authors showed is that by monitoring and analyizing the brain activity of mice they were able to determine the location of the mice in a cage/box. This means that they used the spatial memory of cells to be able to determine where a rat was. In essence this means that cells are able to retain information on where a rat was, or more accurately these cells fire signals when rats are in a certain position. This means the brain is functioning as a whole to record location. This shows how complexly wonderful our brain is at processing information, and why simple injuries to the brain can cause such dramatic effects in personality.

This work opens the pathway to discover more complicated brain processes. This is wonderful as hopefully one day very soon we can discover why we as people think rationally sometimes and irrationally the next. It will help us understand why mental illness exists, and whether a person needs to be medicated or not. These are exciting times, and hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later.