May 18, 2024

Researchers from Bosnia and Herzegovina develop theory about traveling waves of activity in the brain – News

For the first time, the team led by Professor Dr. Petra Ritter uses computer simulations to show how traveling waves of activity appear and move in the brain. Previous studies indicate that these waves are important for various cognitive functions such as memory. doctor. As Johanna Quandt Professor of Brain Simulation at the Charité Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), Petra Ritter heads the Brain Simulation Working Group there and is Head of the Department of Brain Simulation at the Clinic for Neurology with Experimental Neuroscience at the Charité – Medical University. Berlin. Those of Dr. A study led by Ritter published in “Nature CommunicationsIt was published as part of the dissertation of Dominique Kohler, the first author of the publication.

Traveling activity waves are a form of brain waves

Traveling waves of activity are a pattern of neural signals that arise when groups of neurons are active at the same time, and this spatially synchronized activity travels across the cerebral cortex over time. Researchers can make the waves visible using measurements such as electroencephalography (EEG for short). The wave is caused by a large-scale frequency gradient in the brain, which in turn results from a gradient in network strength.

Traveling waves of activity move through the cortex

Professor Dr. Petra Ritter is convinced that brain waves can be key to learning processes in the brain because synchronized activity strengthens connectivity. “Wave fronts moving through the brain synchronize the activity of neurons – even if they are spatially far apart from each other. One well-known theory states that what ‘fires’ together – that is, is active at the same time – links itself together. This means that these Waves could represent an important basis for coordinating plastic changes and brain learning Waves in the brain can travel on a wide range of spatial scales and can also change direction and other properties: “We know that there are different factors that influence the propagation of waves, but the precise relationships are very complex. Despite the complexity, our mathematical models of the brain make it possible to break the basic rules.

Wandering waves of activity are important in therapy

Knowing the mechanisms by which waves of traveling activity arise could improve the treatment of brain diseases in the future and help understand these diseases. “For example, in the treatment of schizophrenia, epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease,” adds Petra Ritter. Digital brain twins developed by Petra Ritter’s team can be used to simulate the brain’s reaction to a specific stimulus. Ritter sees the potential of simulation to plan treatments such as brain stimulation, for example in the form of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease, but also to plan personalized neurosurgical procedures on the computer and thus make them safer and more efficient: “What previous models didn’t take into account plastic changes. “Understanding the creation of activity wave fronts can now also be used to simulate the effects of learning in the sense of change in the brain.” In the next step, the researchers plan to use the model to simulate the effects of long-term external stimulation of the brain, for example through transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or deep stimulation. to the brain by inserting electrodes. Brain research could help future doctors use computer simulations to plan which stimulation has the best effect on a sick person.


Original post
Dominik P. Kohler, Michael Scherner, Petra Ritter: “The topology of the human neural network directs traveling cortical waves and shapes frequency gradients.”
Nature Communications Volume 15, Article Number: 3570 (2024)