Cognitive-related neural pattern to activate machines

June 14, 2017
Task was developed by the subjects. 1. The rat goes next to iPad. 2. The rat waits near the iPad and generates the cognitive-related brain pattern selected by researchers. Consequently, a visual stimulus appears on the iPad's screen. 3. The rat touches the stimulus on the iPad. 4. The rats goes to feeder to get the obtained reward. 5. The rat eats the food and re-starts the cycle. Credit: www.divisiondeneurociencias.es (UPO) and Neuro-Com (UAB).

Brain-machine interfaces represent a solution for people with physical difficulties to communicate with their physical and social environment. In this work, researchers have identified a functional brain pattern in the prefrontal cortex associated with cognitive processes, and have used it to activate an iPad touchscreen.

The use of the neural cortical activity for operant conditioning tasks has existed for decades. The new device allows the activation of any environmental instrument through specific electrical brain signals selected at will. In this research, authors worked with electrical brain signals that allowed the activation of the iPad's touchscreen. At the same time, experimental animals had to touch stimuli presented on the iPad to obtain a reward and, thus, to properly complete the task.

One of the most interesting results of this research is that rats learned to increase the frequency of the selected throughout successive experimental sessions, with the aim of obtaining the reward. Authors also prove that the selected pattern is connected to and not to motor or behavioral activity, which represents important progress in the design of brain-machine interfaces. Another result of interest is that the selected brain pattern did not modify its functional properties after being used to activate the associative learning. Therefore, the (a brain area particularly connected to mental processes and states) has the ability to produce an oscillatory pattern that rats can generate to control their environment. This work is expected to advance in the area of brain-machine interactions.

Explore further: Brain circuit enables split-second decisions when cues conflict

More information: Samuel Hernández-González et al, A cognition-related neural oscillation pattern, generated in the prelimbic cortex, can control operant learning in rats, The Journal of Neuroscience (2017). DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3651-16.2017

Related Stories

Brain circuit enables split-second decisions when cues conflict

April 24, 2017
When animals hunt or forage for food, they must constantly weigh whether the chance of a meal is worth the risk of being spotted by a predator. The same conflict between cost and benefit is at the heart of many of the decisions ...

Conclusions on brain-machine interfaces for communication and rehabilitation

October 5, 2016
In the journal Nature Reviews Neurology, the researcher Ander Ramos of Tecnalia, with Niel Birbaumer, lecturer at the University of Tübingen, have expounded how brain-machine interfaces (BMI) use brain activity to control ...

Scientists demonstrate the existence of 'social neurons'

May 25, 2017
The existence of new "social" neurons has just been demonstrated by scientists from the Institut de neurosciences des systèmes (Aix-Marseille University / INSERM), the Laboratoire de psychologie sociale et cognitive (Université ...

Finding traces of memory processing during sleep

May 17, 2017
Sleep helps us to retain the information that we have learned during the day. We know from animal experiments that new memories are reactivated during sleep. The brain replays previous experience while we sleep – and this ...

Brain's prefrontal lobe is major player in Parkinson's Gait

August 10, 2016
A new study by Tel Aviv University researchers demonstrates that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with cognitive functions, plays a major role in "Parkinson's Gait." It suggests a radically new understanding ...

Brain's motor cortex uses multiple frequency bands to coordinate movement

February 21, 2014
Synchrony is critical for the proper functioning of the brain. Synchronous firing of neurons within regions of the brain and synchrony between brain waves in different regions facilitate information processing, yet researchers ...

Recommended for you

Brain training can improve our understanding of speech in noisy places

October 19, 2017
For many people with hearing challenges, trying to follow a conversation in a crowded restaurant or other noisy venue is a major struggle, even with hearing aids. Now researchers reporting in Current Biology on October 19th ...

Investigating the most common genetic contributor to Parkinson's disease

October 19, 2017
LRRK2 gene mutations are the most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease (PD), but the normal physiological role of this gene in the brain remains unclear. In a paper published in Neuron, Brigham and Women's Hospital ...

Researchers find shifting relationship between flexibility, modularity in the brain

October 19, 2017
A new study by Rice University researchers takes a step toward what they see as key to the advance of neuroscience: a better understanding of the relationship between the brain's flexibility and its modularity.

Brain takes seconds to switch modes during tasks

October 19, 2017
The brain rapidly switches between operational modes in response to tasks and what is replayed can predict how well a task will be completed, according to a new UCL study in rats.

New procedure enables cultivation of human brain sections in the petri dish

October 19, 2017
Researchers at the University of Tübingen have become the first to keep human brain tissue alive outside the body for several weeks. The researchers, headed by Dr. Niklas Schwarz, Dr. Henner Koch and Dr. Thomas Wuttke at ...

Want to control your dreams? Here's how

October 19, 2017
New research at the University of Adelaide has found that a specific combination of techniques will increase people's chances of having lucid dreams, in which the dreamer is aware they're dreaming while it's still happening ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.