Scientists study background brain activity

June 5, 2007

A U.S.-led team of neuroscientists has determined the 98 percent of brain activity considered background noise is, in fact, important.

Indiana University Associate Professor Olaf Sporns and doctoral student Christopher Honey note brains are always active, even when people are at rest. In the "resting state," waves of neural activity ripple through the brain, creating fluctuating and ever-changing patterns. Sporns and Honey say such offer insights into what the brain does while idle.

"Some people see the brain in terms of inputs and outputs, like a computer. If you provide an input, you'll get a particular output," said Honey. "We take a different view. We believe that even in the absence of an external stimulus, there are very important processes going on in the brain which affect the stimulus-responses that the brain will produce. We believe that ongoing spontaneous activity should be studied in itself."

The research -- conducted with neuroanatomist Rolf Kotter of Radboud University in the Netherlands and cognitive neuroscientist Michael Breakspear of the University of New South Wales in Australia -- appears in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Forager bees 'turn on' gene expression to protect against microorganisms, toxins

Related Stories

Buzzing bees can't resist caffeinated nectar

October 15, 2015

For many people, the best start to the day is a nice, fresh cup of joe. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on October 15 find that honey bees find caffeinated beverages—er, nectar—irresistible ...

Manganese speeds up honey bees

March 24, 2015

Asked to name one way people have changed the environment, many people would probably say "global warming." But that's really just the start of it.

Honey-bee aggression study suggests nurture alters nature

August 17, 2009

A new study reveals that changes in gene expression in the brain of the honey bee in response to an immediate threat have much in common with more long-term and even evolutionary differences in honey-bee aggression. The findings ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


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.