UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Understanding how the brain determines coincidence

19 February 2011

Neurons in the brain are bombarded by incoming signals, and one of the challenges facing neuroscience research is to understand how the brain sorts this information.

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One mechanism is to determine which inputs are coincident (ie arrive at the same time) and therefore presumably generated by the same or closely associated processes. In order to achieve this, the brain needs to be able to analyse inputs with millisecond precision.

Ivan Pavlov and colleagues at UCL Institute of Neurology have shown in work published  in Nature Communications (Nat. Commun. 2 : 199 doi:10.1038/ncomms1202 (2011)) that this precision is critically dependent upon the presence of a particular ion channel, which determines the way in which inhibition alters the voltage of neurons. Importantly, certain diseases such as epilepsy can interfere with this process, possibly leading to a disruption of cognitive function.

reference >> Nature Communications.  2 : 199 doi:10.1038/ncomms1202  Ih-mediated depolarization enhances the temporal precision of neuronal integration
Ivan Pavlov, Annalisa Scimemi, Leonid Savtchenko, Dimitri M. Kullmann, & Matthew C. Walker