A new model to study brain learning

The brain is an incredibly complex organic machine with innumerable neural connections that are constantly permeated by electrical impulses. Scientists have long struggled to understand, test, and replicate it. However, one question remains essential: How does he learn?

Researchers at the University of Montreal have studied the earning capacity that distinguishes living beings. The study, published in Nature magazine, focuses on pyramidal cells of the neocortex, responsible for storing information.

What is the brain made of?

The brain is made up of 100 billion nerve cells divided into four distinct areas: the parietal lobe, the occipital lobe, the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe. Analogously, neurons look like a tree, and synapses, the connections between neurons, are like leaves.

Credit: Geralt/Pixabay

The dynamics of calcium studied

Synaptic plasticity represents a function of the nervous system that is essential to memorization: it is the ability to do so making and breaking neural connections. Among other things, it allows the brain to recover from certain lesions and delay neurodegenerative diseases.

The research team from Canada focused on calcium-based synaptic plasticity. Using new computer models, scientists can now better understand the synaptic changes caused by the pyramidal cells that make them up 80% of the neocortex. The results of the experiments, which are compared with those acquired, prove it positively. However, these result from a single property: the calcium dynamics. It remains today to study the numerous elements of variation in this plasticity.

We do not claim that the available experimental data are sufficient to fully constrain the model or validate its predictive power”say the researchers. Further experiments would be useful to test the model’s predictions and refine its assumptions.

The brain, an eternal object of research

The measurements were performed on sections of rodent brains in vitro. As the researchers point out, ” Ihas synaptic plasticity depends crucially on the dynamics of neurotransmitter release and postsynaptic calcium influxan unphysiological concentration of calcium could induce plastic changes that are not representative of real in vivo learning rules”.

In addition, their new modeling would make it possible for the entire scientific communitymove forward efficiently about the knowledge of the brain. Optimizing the plasticity model is a computationally intensive process that is beyond the capabilities of a typical workstation. However, re-optimization should not be necessary for most researchers wishing to use the plasticity model in their own studies.

Research into the brain remains a huge field of discovery that draws on a wide range of research areas. In addition, scientists have recently detected a much higher than expected temperature in our thinking organ.

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