Scientists tracked a thought as it moved through the brain. What did they find?

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: May 18, 2021, 05:32 PM(IST)

MRI scan of a brain performing tasks Photograph:( Twitter )

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Scientists were able to follow a thought as it moved through the brain, revealing the mechanisms of how our mind thinks and the processes involved therein

Human brain is the processor of all information we throw its way. It is also single-handedly responsible for keeping the body and mind in sync. A wireless machine, it never stops crunching data and is always processing information. All our thoughts pass through this celestial organ which is central to our nervous system. 

Scientists were able to follow a thought as it moved through the brain, revealing the mechanisms of how our mind thinks and the processes involved therein. The study from 2018 assessed epilepsy patients who were undergoing surgery. Neuroscientists were able to track the trajectory of a thought through patients’ brains.

It was long asserted that the prefrontal cortex is responsible for linking interactions within the brain. This study reinforced those claims, for the region facilities complex interactions between different parts of the brain, which is how thoughts are processed.

To understand the movement of information from one part of the brain to another, scientists heavily rely on electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technologies. These provide a compelling insight into the workings of the mind, but its better understandings still require invasive procedures.

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In the study, researchers from the University of California, Berkley recorded neurons’ electrical activity using a technique considered more precise. It is known as electrocorticograhy (ECoG). The technique poses many risks, but is necessary for patients undergoing surgery for epilepsy. This is why it served as a perfect opportunity for scientists to study the brain.

16 test subjects involved in the study were asked to perform varying tasks while their neural activity was being tracked. They were asked to listen to a stimulus and react, while many were shown images of certain objects and then asked to perform actions.

Even though the study mostly reaffirms what scientists already know about the brain, it shed light on how important prefrontal cortex is in helping humans act on different stimuli. The scientists observed the electrical activity from one part of the brain to another. They found that the prefrontal cortex is responsible for linking all human thoughts and actions.

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