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Information flows through only 20 percent of brain region

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New Delhi: Indian-origin researcher and his team from Indiana University discovered that just like most of the world’s air travel passes a few major hubs, the majority of information in the brain flows through well-traveled routes.

According to the team, 70 percent of all information within cortical regions in the brain passes through only 20 percent of these regions’ neurons.

“The discovery of this small but information-rich subset of neurons within cortical regions suggests this sub-network might play a vital role in communication, learning and memory,” said Sunny Nigam, Ph D candidate in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Physics and lead author on the study.

These high-traffic “hub neurons” could play a vital role in understanding brain health since this sort of highly efficient network is also more vulnerable to disruption.

“The brain seems to favor efficiency over vulnerability,” said John M Beggs, associate professor of biophysics in a paper appeared the journal Neuroscience.

To conduct the study, scientists recorded small electrical impulses from up to 500 neurons from a part of the brain responsible for the sense of touch.

“This is the first study to combine such a large number of neurons with such high temporal resolution,” Nigam added.

The experiments, conducted in live and tissue samples, were based in rodents.

Similar high-traffic zones in the cortex have been shown to exist in more advanced mammals, including primates and adult humans.

Understanding how the brain maintains good “air traffic control” between information-rich and information-poor neurons will be the next step in unraveling the mystery of hub neurons.

“If we ever want to understand how these types of neurons keep information in our heads flowing smoothly, we really need to learn a lot more about how they work together,” Nigam noted.(IANS)

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New Study Shows That Elderly With Symptoms of Depression Are More Prone to Memory Problems

"Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems," said study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, US.

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The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory -- a person's ability to remember specific experiences and events.
representational image. pixabay

Depression may speed up brain ageing and lead to memory problems in older adults, suggests new research that offers hope of finding a new way to treat memory issues.

“Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems,” said study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, US.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, also showed that older people with greater symptoms of depression may have structural differences in the brain compared to people without symptoms.

“With as many as 25 per cent of older adults experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to better understand the relationship between depression and memory problems,” Zeki Al Hazzouri said.

The study involved over 1,000 people with an average age of 71.

The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory -- a person's ability to remember specific experiences and events.
representational image, pixabay

At the beginning of the study, all the participants had brain scans, a psychological exam and assessments for memory and thinking skills. Their memory and thinking skills were tested again an average of five years later.

At the start of the study, 22 per cent of the participants had greater symptoms of depression.

The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory — a person’s ability to remember specific experiences and events.

Those with greater symptoms of depression had differences in the brain including smaller brain volume as well as a 55 per cent greater chance of small vascular lesions in the brain, the findings showed.

Also Read: Trauma in Childhood is Linked to Negative Outcomes in Adulthood 

“Small vascular lesions in the brain are markers of small vessel disease, a condition in which the walls in the small blood vessels are damaged,” said Zeki Al Hazzouri.

“Our research suggests that depression and brain ageing may occur simultaneously, and greater symptoms of depression may affect brain health through small vessel disease,” Zeki Al Hazzouri added. (IANS)

 

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