A glimpse into the inner workings of the 3D brain: Researchers build computer models to explore how memories form
- Scientists at the Mercator Research Group creates the new models
- It lets experts make artificial networks of nerve endings in the hippocampus - on a computer screen so they can explore how memories form
- The hippocampus is thought to be one of the oldest regions of the brain
- Scientists are monitoring the way neural signals spread throughout the network time-wise using their new tool
- In the furure they hope to show how animals memorise food and dangers
The way neurons are interconnected in the brain is complicated.
But now scientists have created a new type of computer model to make artificial networks of nerve cells found in the hippocampus region of the brain.
The hippocampus helps us form personal memories, and it is hoped the tool will shed more light on how these memories develop as they move through the region's different structures.
Scientists have created a new type of computer model to make artificial networks of nerve cells in the hippocampus part of the brain. A model of a rat's hippocampus is pictured, with different colours denoting different regions. It is hoped the tool will shed more light on how the hippocampus forms memories
Scientists will also explore how the structure connects to the the brain, and which information arrives where and when, using models.
The model has been created by Dr Martin Pyka and his colleagues from the Mercator Research Group in Germany.
Dr Pyka developed a method that allows the brain's anatomic data and neurons to be reconstructed as a 3D model.
Once built, this 3D model can be manipulated on a computer.
The hippocampus enables humans to navigate space securely and to form personal memories. The region is seahorse shaped and is shaded in red in this illustration
Researchers from the Mercator Research Group in Germany, developed the method that means the brain can be constructed as a 3D model, and can be manipulated on a computer (pictured). Structures that form a rat's hippocampus, including CA1, CA3, subiculum and entorhinal cortex are pictured in blue, red, yellow and green
They claim that their approach is unique because it enables automatic calculation of the neural interconnection based on their position inside the space.
Scientists can generate feasible network structures more easily than using other tools.
They are using the models to monitor the way neural signals spread throughout the network time-wise, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.
Dr Pyka has, so far, found evidence that the hippocampus' form and size could explain why neurons in those networks fire in certain frequencies.
In future, this method may help us understand how animals, for example, combine various information to form memories within the hippocampus, in order to memorise food sources or dangers and to remember them in certain situations.
The researchers have so far shown off a model of a rat’s hippocampus including its different layers such as the CA1 and CA3 regions, the subiculum and entorhinal cortex.
Dr Pyka has so far found evidence that the hippocampus' form and size could explain why neurons in those networks fire in certain frequencies. Neurons in a mouse hippocampus are pictured