A direct link between activity in the brain’s cortex and the
microscopic structure of the neuronal network has been shown and
published in the open access journal PLoS ONE on
May 14, 2008.
Building on an existing body of research, Roberto FernГЎndez
GalГЎn, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neurosciences at Case Western
Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine, investigated the small
neuronal networks in the cortex. He found that the spontaneous activity
in which they engage is not just random “noise,” but rather highly
structured patterns of signals. This illuminates previous speculations,
proving that these patterns are clearly shaped by network connectivity.
“The activity patterns can be used to inform researchers about the
anatomy of the underlying neuronal network,” he explains.
“Reciprocally, the connections in the network determine the patterns of
spontaneous neuronal activity and their complexity.”
GalГЎn added, indicating that there could be a relatively clearly
interpreted system interlaced: “The calculations and the computer model
showed that these structured
patterns can function as an ‘alphabet’ of the neural code, since the
activity consists of combinations of these patterns, similarly to a
printed text that consists of combinations of letters.” He added,
noting on the importance of these findings, that they “are useful in
determining how much information a neuronal network in the brain can
This research is a major step in the understanding of neuroscience on a
systems level — that is, how neurons behave when they are connected to
form networks. In the end, how the brain processes and stores sensory
information is important to understand why alterations between these
connections can lead to pathologies, such as epilepsy.
Dr. GalГЎn entered the faculty at CWRU’s School of Medicine in February
2008 after completing postdoctoral work at Carnegie Mellon University
and the Center for Neural Basis of Cognition in Pittsburgh. Shortly
after this, he was awarded as a scholar in the Mount Sinai Health Care
Foundation Scholars program, and he is the twelfth faculty member to
receive this honor since the program’s inception in 1998. “Roberto
FernГЎndez GalГЎn has made an outstanding addition to the Case
Western Reserve University School of Medicine,” commented Dean Pamela
Davis, M.D., Ph.D. “We are excited about the impact of this paper in
the field of
neurosciences and are looking forward to his continued contributions to
the top-tier research conducted by our faculty.”
The above research was supported by the Mount Sinai Foundation, one of
the leading health philanthropies in Greater Cleveland.
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On How Network Architecture Determines the Dominant Patterns
of Spontaneous Neural Activity.
GalГЎn RF (2008)
PLoS ONE 3(5): e2148.
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Anna Sophia McKenney