Study investigates what happens in brain when daydreaming – Times of India

Study investigates what happens in brain when daydreaming - Times of India

Toronto: A The mouse The research published in Nature involved a team led by Harvard Medical School. The researchers One step closer to understanding what happens the brain During Day dreaming.
Supervised the activities of the researchers Neurons I Visual cortex The brains of rats when the animals were awake and quiet. They discovered that these neurons occasionally fire in the same way as when a mouse looks at a real image, suggesting that the mouse is thinking about the image—or daydreaming. Is.
Additionally, patterns of activity during a mouse’s first few daydreams indicate how the brain’s response to the image will develop over time.
The study provided preliminary, if preliminary, evidence that daydreaming can influence the brain’s future response to what it perceives. The authors note that further study is needed to establish this causal association, but the results provide an interesting indication that daydreaming during peaceful wakefulness is associated with brain plasticity, or the brain’s response to new experiences. may play a role in the ability to regenerate
“We wanted to know how this daydreaming process occurred at the neural level and whether these moments of quiet reflection might be important for learning and memorysaid lead author Nghia Nguyen, a PhD student in neurobiology at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS.
Scientists have spent a lot of time studying how neurons replay past events to form memories and map the physical environment in the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped brain region. which plays a key role in memory and spatial navigation.
In contrast, there has been little research on the replay of neurons in other brain regions, including the visual cortex. Such efforts will provide valuable insights into how visual memories are formed.
“My lab became interested in whether we could record from enough neurons in the visual cortex to understand exactly what the mouse was remembering — and then link that information to brain plasticity,” senior author Mark said Enderman, professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess. Professor of Neurobiology at the Medical Center and HMS.
In the new study, the researchers repeatedly showed rats one of two pictures, each consisting of a different checkerboard pattern of gray and faded black and white squares. Between images, rats spent one minute looking at a gray screen. The team simultaneously recorded the activity of about 7,000 neurons in the visual cortex.
The researchers found that when a mouse looked at an image, the neurons fired in a specific pattern, and the patterns were different enough to distinguish image two from image one. More importantly, when a mouse looked at a gray screen between images, the neurons sometimes fired in a similar, but not identical, pattern as when the mouse looked at the image. is a sign that he was daydreaming about the picture.
These daydreams only occur when rats are relaxed, characterized by calm behavior and small pupils.
Not surprisingly, the mice daydreamed more about the most recent picture and had more dreams at the beginning of the day than at the end, after they had seen each picture dozens of times.
Throughout the day and across days, activity patterns changed as the mice looked at the pictures—what neuroscientists call “representational drift.” Yet this flow was not random. Over time, the patterns associated with the images became even more distinct from one another, until each involved an almost entirely separate set of neurons.
Specifically, the pattern seen during the mouse’s first few days of dreaming about the image predicted what the pattern would be when the mouse saw the image later.
“There is a change in how the brain responds to the same image over time, and these early daydreams can predict where that flux is going,” Anderman said.
Finally, the researchers found that daydreaming in the visual cortex occurred at the same time as replay activity in the hippocampus, suggesting that the two brain regions were communicating during these daydreams. .
Based on the study’s findings, the researchers suspect that these daydreams may be actively involved in brain plasticity.
“When you see two different images many times, it becomes important to discriminate between them. Our results suggest that daydreaming can guide this process by dissociating the neural patterns associated with the two images. Do,” said Nguyen, noting that this relationship needs to be confirmed.
Learning to distinguish between images should help the mouse respond to each image with more clarity in the future, Nguyen added.
These observations are consistent with growing evidence in rodents and humans that entering a state of quiet awareness after an experience can improve learning and memory.
Next, the researchers plan to use their imaging tools to look at the connections between individual neurons in the visual cortex and examine how these connections change when the brain “sees” an image.
“We were chasing this 99 percent of the brain’s unexplored activity and found that there is so much richness in the visual cortex that no one knew anything about,” Anderman said.
Whether people’s daydreams involve similar patterns of activity in the visual cortex is an open question, and additional experiments will be needed to answer. However, there is preliminary evidence that a similar process occurs in humans when they recall visual images.
Randy Buckner, Sussland Family Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Harvard University, has shown that brain activity in the visual cortex increases when people are asked to recall an image in detail. Other studies have recorded fluctuations in electrical activity in the visual cortex and hippocampus during such memories.
For the researchers, the results of their study and others suggest that it may be important to make room for moments of quiet waking that lead to daydreams. For a mouse, this might mean taking a break from looking at a series of images, and for a human, it might mean taking a break from scrolling on a smartphone.
“We feel pretty confident that if you never wake yourself up, you won’t have as many daydreaming events, which may be important for brain plasticity,” Anderman said. ”

Visual cortex,The researchers,Neurons,The mouse,memory,Day dreaming,the brain

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