Enriched Experiences Enhance Brain Connectivity – Neuroscience News

Summary: A new study reveals the extent to which experiences can affect brain connectivity. The study used a neurochip with more than 4,000 electrodes to track neuronal activity in the brains of mice.

The results showed that mice living in an enriched environment had significantly more interconnected neurons than those living in standard environments. These findings not only provide insights into brain plasticity but also have potential applications in artificial intelligence.

Main aspects:

  1. A team of researchers used a neurochip to observe neuronal activity in the brains of mice and found that an enriched environment significantly increases the interconnections in neurons.
  2. The research offers a groundbreaking understanding of brain plasticity and large-scale neural networks.
  3. The study’s findings have potential implications for artificial intelligence, with the insights helping potentially inform new machine learning algorithms.

Source: DZNE

That experiences leave their traces in the connectivity of the brain has long been known, but a pioneering study by researchers at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and TUD Dresden University of Technology now shows just how massive these effects really are.

The findings in mice provide unprecedented insights into the complexity of large-scale neural networks and brain plasticity. Furthermore, they could pave the way for new brain-inspired AI methods.

The results, based on an innovative brain-on-chip technology, have been published in the scientific journalBiosensors and Bioelectronics.

This shows the head of a woman.
These findings suggest that leading an active and varied life shapes the brain on an entirely new basis. Credit: Neuroscience News

The Dresden researchers explored the question of how an enriched experience affects the circuitry of the brain. For this, they used a so-called neurochip with more than 4,000 electrodes to detect the electrical activity of brain cells. This innovative platform made it possible to record the simultaneous activation of thousands of neurons.

The examined area much smaller than the size of a human fingernail covered an entire mouse hippocampus. This brain structure, shared by humans, plays a vital role in learning and memory, making it a prime target for the ravages of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.

For their study, the scientists compared the brain tissue of mice reared differently. While one group of rodents grew up in standard cages, which offered no special stimulation, the others were housed in an enriched environment that included rearrangeable toys and maze-like plastic tubes.

The results far exceeded our expectations, said Dr Hayder Amin, lead scientist on the study. Amin, an expert in neuroelectronics and nomputational neuroscience, leads a research group at DZNE. He and his team developed the technology and analytical tools used in this study.

Simplifying, it can be said that the neurons of mice in the enriched environment were much more interconnected than those raised in standard housing. Regardless of which metric we looked at, a richer experience literally boosted the connections in neural networks.

“These findings suggest that leading an active and varied life shapes the brain on an entirely new basis.

Unprecedented insight into brain networks

Prof. Gerd Kempermann, who co-led the study and has worked on the question of how physical and cognitive activity helps the brain form resilience to aging and neurodegenerative diseases, attests: Everything we knew so far this area has been taken up by studies with single electrodes or imaging techniques such as MRI.

“The spatial and temporal resolution of these techniques is much coarser than our approach. Here we can literally see the circuits at work down to the scale of individual cells. We applied advanced computational tools to extract an enormous amount of detail about network dynamics in space and time from our recordings.

We have uncovered a wealth of data illustrating the benefits of a brain shaped by rich experience. This paves the way for understanding the role of plasticity and reserve formation in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases, especially with respect to new preventive strategies, said Prof. Kempermann, who, in addition to being a DZNE researcher, is also affiliated with the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) at TU Dresden.

Furthermore, this will help provide insight into pathological processes associated with neurodegeneration, such as dysfunctions of brain networks.

Potential for brain-inspired artificial intelligence

By unveiling how experiences shape the connectome and dynamics of the brain, we’re not just pushing the boundaries of brain research, says Dr. Amin.

AI is inspired by the way the brain calculates information. Therefore, our tools and the insights they generate could pave the way for new machine learning algorithms.

About this news about neuroplasticity research

Author: Marcus Neitzert
Source: DZNE
Contact: Marcus Neitzert – DZNE
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original research: Free access.
“High-resolution CMOS-based biosensor to evaluate hippocampal circuit dynamics in experience-dependent plasticity” by Hayder Amin et al. Biosensors and Bioelectronics


High-resolution CMOS-based biosensor to evaluate hippocampal circuit dynamics in experience-dependent plasticity

Experiential richness creates tissue-level changes and synaptic plasticity as patterns emerge from the rhythmic spatiotemporal activity of large interconnected neuronal assemblages.

Despite numerous experimental and computational approaches at different scales, the precise impact of experience on network-level computational dynamics remains inaccessible due to the lack of an applicable large-scale logging methodology.

We demonstrate here a CMOS-based in-circuit biohybridbrain multi-site biosensor with an unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution of 4096 microelectrodes, which allows for simultaneous electrophysiological assessment across the entire hippocampal-cortical subnetwork from mice living in an enriched and housed environment. standard (SD) conditions.

Our platform, equipped with various computational analyses, reveals the impacts of environmental enrichment on local and global spatiotemporal neural dynamics, activation synchrony, topological network complexity, and large-scale connectome.

Our results outline the distinct role of previous experience in improving multiplex dimensional coding formed by neuronal ensembles and fault tolerance and resilience to random failures compared to standard conditions.

The scale and depth of these effects highlight the critical role of high-density and large-scale biosensors in providing a new understanding of the computational dynamics and information processing under multimodal and experience-dependent physiological plasticity conditions and their role in higher brain functions.

Knowledge of these large-scale dynamics can inspire the development of biologically plausible computational models and computational AI networks, and expand the reach of brain-inspired neuromorphic computing into new applications.

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Image Source : neurosciencenews.com

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