Japanese and Spanish researchers have succeeded in designing in vitro neuronal circuits which reproduces the capacity for segregation and integration of brain circuits and that allows understanding dynamic brain reconfiguration.
As explained by researchers at the Institute of Complex Systems of the University of Barcelona and co-workers, Jordi Soriano, "one of the most important and surprising features of the brain is its ability to dynamically reconfigure connections to process stimulation and answer correctly. "
Dynamic reconfiguration is understood as strengthening or weakening the relationship through an increase or decrease in nerve activity.
When reconfiguration leads to greater cohesion between different brain neural circuits, it is said that it is integrated, and when cohesion decreases, it is said to separate.
The study, published today in the journal Science Advances, shows "the importance of modular organization to maximize the flexibility of neural circuits." This also illustrates potential in vitro tool and biophysical models to advance in understanding collective phenomena in complex systems are as dazzling and rich as the brain, according to Soriano.
Researchers highlight the complexity of brain function, which allows, for example, that stimuli that come through vision, hearing and smell are processed separately in the cerebral cortex and then partially or completely integrated according to need. .
"When we watch movies, we integrate images and sounds, ignoring odors and other stimuli, but when we smell burning, the brain is alerted so that it integrates and analyzes all possible information to make urgent decisions," he gave an example.
The in vitro brain model developed by the researchers consists of four interconnected modules, in which each module represents a special neural circuit (for example, vision or hearing).
The four modules are coated with proteins and adhesive nutrients where neurons develop, which connect between them in modules and with other neurons in distant modules.
According to Soriano, the precision of neuroengineering allows controlling how many connections are passed from one module to another and, therefore, allows adjustment of the degree of physical coupling between modules, and in this model stimulation is consistent with spontaneous activation of neurons.
Using calcium fluorescence microscopy to detect nerve activation, researchers have studied the ability of circuits to integrate or separate spontaneously according to the level of connectivity between modules and other factors.
The researchers acknowledge that the dynamics observed are far from the actual complexity of the brain, but claim that they have been able to get details about the fundamental mechanisms that shape the dynamics of the brain. EFE