A new study has shed light on the processes used by the brain in incorporating new information and cognitive processes into prefrontal cortex activity.
Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Dr. Christos Constantinides, and the McGovern Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Ethan M. Meyers and Dr. Xue-Lian Qi, performed short-term memory tests on monkeys, while measuring electrical activity in their brains.
As the primates were trained to recognise shapes, it was found that learning was associated with activation of certain neurons that were highly specialised for the task but also able to retain existing information.
This insight into the ability of the prefrontal cortex cells to multitask could lead to new ideas about how the brain generally retains information, which could aid patients affected by memory issues in future.
Greek-American Dr. Christos Constantinidis, associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and senior author of the study, said: “Computerised training to perform cognitive tasks, like those used in our study, has shown promise in cognitive rehabilitation and for treatment of mental illnesses and conditions, such as schizophrenia and ADHD.”
Last week, the University of Illinois at Chicago published data from a study involving naked mole-rats, showing how the creatures are able to avoid damage to their brains in low-oxygen environments.
The objective of Dr. Constantinides’ work aims at understanding how neuronal activity in the cerebral cortex gives rise to cognitive functions.