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Brain Waves - A Window to the Past


Science & Tech  (tags: archaeology, discovery, design, concept, investigation, interesting, science, research, study )

JL
- 417 days ago - weizmann-usa.org
What if experts could dig into the brain, like archaeologists, and uncover the history of past experiences? This ability might reveal what makes each of us a unique individual, & could enable the objective diagnosis of a wide range of neuropsychological



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JL A. (275)
Monday July 29, 2013, 6:37 pm

Brain Waves A Window to the Past

What if experts could dig into the brain, like archaeologists, and uncover the history of past experiences? This ability might reveal what makes each of us a unique individual, and could enable the objective diagnosis of a wide range of neuropsychological diseases. New research at the Weizmann Institute hints that such a scenario is within the realm of possibility: it shows that spontaneous waves of neuronal activity in the brain bear the imprints of earlier events for at least 24 hours after the experience has taken place.

The new research stems from earlier findings in the lab of Prof. Rafael (Rafi) Malach of the Institute's Department of Neurobiology and others showing that the brain never rests, even when its owner is resting. When a person is resting with closed eyes that is, no visual stimulus is entering the brain the normal bursts of nerve cell activity associated with incoming information are replaced by ultra-slow patterns of neuronal activity. Such spontaneous or "resting" waves travel in a highly organized and reproducible manner through the brain's outer layer the cortex and the patterns they create are complex, yet periodic and symmetrical.

Like hieroglyphics, it seemed that these patterns might have some meaning, and research student Tal Harmelech, under the guidance of Prof. Malach and Dr. Son Preminger, set out to uncover their significance. As our experiences become embedded in these connections, they create "expectations" that come into play before we perform any type of mental task, enabling us to anticipate the result. The researchers hypothesized that information about earlier experiences would thus be incorporated into the links between networks of nerve cells in the cortex, and these would show up in the brain's spontaneously emerging wave patterns.

In the experiment, volunteers undertook a training exercise that would strongly activate a well-defined network of nerve cells in the frontal lobes. While undergoing scans of their brain activity in the Institute's functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, the subjects were asked to imagine a situation in which they had to make rapid decisions. The subjects received auditory feedback in real time, based on the information obtained directly from their frontal lobe, which indicated the level of neuronal activity in the trained network. This "neurofeedback" strategy proved highly successful in activating the frontal network a part of the brain that is notoriously difficult to activate under controlled conditions.

To test whether the connections created in the brain during this exercise would leave traces in the patterns formed by the resting brain waves, the researchers performed fMRI scans on the resting subjects before the exercise, immediately afterward, and 24 hours later. Their findings, which appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience, showed that the activation of the specific areas in the cortex did indeed remodel the resting brain wave patterns. Surprisingly, the new patterns not only remained the next day, they were significantly strengthened. These observations fit in with the classic learning principles proposed by Donald Hebb in the mid-20th century, in which the co-activation of two linked nerve cells leads to long-term strengthening of their link, while activity that is not coordinated weakens this link. The fMRI images of the resting brain waves showed that brain areas that were activated together during the training sessions exhibited an increase in their functional link a day after the training, while those areas that were deactivated by the training showed a weakened functional connectivity.

This research suggests a number of future possibilities for exploring the brain. For example, spontaneously emerging brain patterns could be used as a "mapping tool" for unearthing cognitive events from an individual's recent past. Or, on a wider scale, each person's unique, spontaneously emerging activity patterns might eventually reveal a sort of personal profile highlighting each individual's abilities, shortcomings, biases, learning skills, etc. "Today, we are discovering more and more of the common principles of brain activity, but we have not been able to account for the differences between individuals," says Prof. Malach. "In the future, spontaneous brain patterns could be the key to obtaining unbiased individual profiles." Such profiles could be especially useful in diagnosing or learning the brain pathologies associated with a wide array of cognitive disabilities.

This is just one of the many studies carried out by the Weizmann Institute, a leader in brain research. The Institute is also a key player in the Human Brain Project, in which scientists all over the world are pooling their knowledge to reconstruct the brain, piece by piece, in supercomputer-based models and simulations. Such models offer the prospect of a new understanding of the human brain and the diseases that affect it, as well as advancing completely new computing and robotic technologies.
 

John C. (81)
Monday July 29, 2013, 6:42 pm
If they prove genetic memory the study will die. It is too close to reincarnation to be tolerated.
 

JL A. (275)
Monday July 29, 2013, 7:12 pm
John, other research has already shown grandparents' choices altering the DNA of their children by anxiety, abuse and other similar factors.
 

John C. (81)
Monday July 29, 2013, 7:16 pm
I know, and we all have them.
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday July 29, 2013, 7:56 pm

The thought of reincarnation didn't enter my thoughts. I can't see any room in a study like this for that sort of thinking. But, I'm tired and maybe I need to read this again and recenter my thinking. It is hard science and not in any way religious or I must be missing a whole lot in the reading.
 

JL A. (275)
Monday July 29, 2013, 8:05 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last day.
 

Terry V. (30)
Monday July 29, 2013, 8:35 pm
Interesting. My late husband had MS " Such models offer the prospect of a new understanding of the human brain and the diseases that affect it"
 

JL A. (275)
Monday July 29, 2013, 8:36 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Terry because you have done so within the last day.
 

Giana Peranio-Paz (384)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 12:19 am
These are Israeli scientist (I can see by the names). It's a very important breakthrough as there is a way of tracking recent activity of the brain. At lease with regard to medicine and research we are on top of the list!
 

Natasha Salgado (520)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 12:39 am
How divine this would be if it could rewire people brains---there's zillions of Pedophiles-,rapists and animal abusers being the front runners. Thx JL
 

Glenn Byrnes (192)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 1:18 am
Noted. Thanks for posting this.
 

TomCat S. (286)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 1:28 am
Interesting, but that presupposes the GOP sheeple have brain waves. ;-)
 

Ana R (220)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 2:11 am
interesting... noted
 

Kerrie G. (135)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 2:28 am
Noted, thanks.
 

Shalvah Landy (0)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 2:32 am
I don't see how genetic memory has anything to do with reincarnation.
 

Fi T. (16)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 4:14 am
Let's learn from the past
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 9:18 am
You are welcome Natasha, Glenn and Kerrie.
You cannot currently send a star to TomCat because you have done so within the last day.
 

Suzanne L. (152)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 10:23 am
Scientists are now proving many theories thru' the use of fMRIs. There has been much written about the brain's plasticity and the ability to rewire ourselves during the last 15 yrs. Regrettably, the people others might most want to be rewired may not fit into this concept. Basic character traits may not be able to be rewired.
 

Joanne Dixon (38)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 10:35 am
Very interesting and hopeful! I will be saving to re-read and share.
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 10:37 am
You cannot currently send a star to Joanne because you have done so within the last day.
 

Carmen S. (611)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 11:41 am
very interesting, thanks JL A
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 1:07 pm
You are welcome Carmen.You cannot currently send a star to Carmen because you have done so within the last day.
 

Dawn Barler (4)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 2:09 pm
This is very interesting and I personally think we need to do more research on the brain. We have almost no understanding of how it works.
 

Eternal Gardener (743)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 4:25 pm
Fascinating stuff, it could, in future, enable people to reach their full potential... and therefore happiness/fulfilment!
 

Birgit W. (144)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 4:28 pm
Interesting, thank you.
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 4:33 pm
You are welcome Birgit.
 

GGmaSheila D. (170)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 9:15 pm
Think maybe they willbe able to pick out the psychopaths among us?? Or maybe the future Tea Partiers??
Noted and thank you.
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 9:22 pm
You are welcome GGma. You cannot currently send a star to GGma Sheila because you have done so within the last day.
 

Lis T. (0)
Wednesday July 31, 2013, 5:18 am
Thank you for this good article.
 

Lona Goudswaard (70)
Wednesday July 31, 2013, 6:16 am
Whoa, getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. From some indications that traces of events are left up to 24 hours in the brains to "What if experts could dig into the brain, like archaeologists, and uncover the history of past experiences?" That's a lot of wishful thinking and a lot of experimentation to go too. And that is exactly why this has been put forward: to show what the contribution of this kind of research could be, to underpin the need to do more of it and to get funds for it. It may well all become true, but as yet little has been found.
And it has absolutely nothing to do with reincarnation.
 

Phil P. (91)
Wednesday July 31, 2013, 6:28 am
Fascinating stuff, Thanks JL.
 

Winn Adams (192)
Wednesday July 31, 2013, 6:51 am
Interesting, thanks.
 

JL A. (275)
Wednesday July 31, 2013, 8:17 am
Excellent summary on the state of the science Lona! Thank you.
You are welcome Elisabeth, Phil and Winn.
You cannot currently send a star to Lona because you have done so within the last day.
 

Helen Porter (40)
Thursday August 1, 2013, 1:42 am
This is what has been being done for years by those who share past life therapies,

I have regressed several people with wonderful healing results.

It's really not that difficult and the results and the healings make it worth while.
 

Sergio Padilla (62)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 8:05 pm
Genetics is incredible!
 

Julia R. (290)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 11:16 pm
Very interesting article that could help us understand these spontaneous brain patterns and the important role they play in learning and memory! It is amazing that even when the brain is at rest- that it actually isn't! And during the 24 hours after an activity or experience or brain is still at work making new connections! It is an organ that really never sleeps! Also great point JL A., "other research has already shown grandparents' choices altering the DNA of their children by anxiety, abuse and other similar factors- even famine as studies done during the depression, as it was shown could have altered gametes so that a successive generation ended up with diabetes even though these children's grandparents didn't have it. That area of biology in which acquired characteristics can play an important in our development is called epigenetics. And this is a recently new field in biology which has certainly shown that old ideas wither and die in science as new discoveries take their place every day! Great post JL.
 
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