A new means of neuronal communication discovered in the human brain

The neuron’s specialized structures, such as the soma, dendrites, axons, terminal buttons, and synaptic vesicles, render neuronal contact possible. An electrochemical event is neuronal contact. The dendrites contain neurotransmitter receptors which are released by nearby neurons.

In a new study published in Nature Communications, in collaboration with the University of Glasgow and the University of Genoa, research groups led by Professor J. Matias Palva and Research Director Satu Palva at the University of Helsinki Neuroscience Centre and Aalto University have identified a novel coupling mechanism that connects neuronal networks through the use of human intracerebral recordings. An integral part of the activity of the human brain is neuronal oscillations. By timing neuronal groups and synchronizing brain regions, they monitor the communication between neural networks and the processing of information carried out by the brain. The behavior of small neuronal populations is considered to be indicated by high-frequency oscillations with frequencies over 100 Hertz. They have however been known to be solely a local phenomenon until now.

The results of the European research project indicate that high-frequency oscillations above 100 Hertz synchronize through many regions of the brain as well. This significant finding reveals that high-frequency oscillations can achieve strictly-timed contact between brain regions. The researchers observed that between neuronal groups with a similar architecture of brain structures across subjects, high-frequency oscillations were synchronized but occurred in individual frequency bands. The coordination of high-frequency oscillations in the same brain regions responsible for the execution of the task culminated in the implementation of a visual task. The first proof of the transmission and reception of such knowledge packets is the observation of high-frequency oscillations synchronized between brain regions in a sense larger than specific positions in the brain. The result also helps to understand how information is processed by the healthy brain and how this processing in brain disorders is changed.

Source : G. Arnulfo, S. H. Wang, V. Myrov, B. Toselli, J. Hirvonen, M. M. Fato, L. Nobili, F. Cardinale, A. Rubino, A. Zhigalov, S. Palva, J. M. Palva. Long-range phase synchronization of high-frequency oscillations in human cortex

Categories: Clinical