AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 1, 2018


Study Reveals Brain Circuits that Shape Sensory Perceptions

In a study recently published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers from John Hopkins University School of Medicine identified brain processes in mice that may help explain why humans experience ambiguous sensory inputs. “In everyday life, we experience weak stimuli all the time,” said the study’s lead researcher. “Did I hear my name being called? Do you smell smoke? Is that an oasis up ahead or a mirage? When the brain receives weak information through the senses, it can interpret that information in multiple ways, and we wanted to understand what determines the resulting perception.” Using high-resolution microscopy with an engineered protein that fluoresces when a nerve cell is active, the research team monitored the activity of hundreds of neurons in the part of the brain responsible for feeling touch (in mice) and found a relationship between two signaling patterns in the cerebral cortex, adding cellular details to the understanding from psychology that what we perceive is not a fixed thing based only on sensory input, but is also influenced by our prior experiences and the current state of our brains. To read more about this study, click here.

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