Nerve Cells Adapt to Changing Images

Study could lead to new therapies to help improve sight following trauma or stroke

nerve cellsUniversity of Texas neuroscientists having been looking at how nerve cells in the visual cortex of the brain handle and adapt to images as they change.

Researchers evaluated the results of stimulating the visual cortex upon optic neurons whose electrical activity was measured at the same time in lab animals.  With the animal viewing movies they monitored the behavior of visual cortex neurons as the images changed.

Results showed that short exposure or adaptation to a fixed visual stimulus caused changes in how much  individual neurons cooperated with each other and in so doing improved the efficiency of the cells to encode information for interpretation by the brain.

The authors of the study wrote that how we see our environment depends upon the ability of the neural networks of our brain and body to adapt very quickly to changes in what we perceive.  Scientists are increasingly realizing that how our neural networks are structured and how they communicate is itself an adaptive process – our nerve cells change how they respond appropriately depending on what is in our sensory environment – converting ” electrical impulses in the brain into thoughts, memories and decisions”.

Source:  “Populations Of Brain Cells Adapt To Changing Images,” Dragoi, et al., Nature 452, 220-224 (13 March 2008).