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Unlocking a Major Secret of the Human Brain: Two Crucial areas Found to be Connected

 

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A clue to understanding certain cognitive and mental disorders may involve two parts of the brain which were previously thought to have independent functions, according to a McGill University team of researchers led by Prof. Yogita Chudasama, of the Laboratory of Brain and Behavior, Department of Psychology.

The McGill team discovered a critical interaction between two prominent brain areas: the hippocampus, a well-known memory structure made famous by Dr. Brenda Milner’s patient H.M., and the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making and inhibiting inappropriate behaviours.

“We had always thought that the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex functioned independently,” says Prof. Chudasama. “Our latest study provides the first indication that that is not the case.”

The team’s finding reveals a critical interaction between these two brain areas and the control of behavior, and may advance the treatment of some cognitive and mental disorders including schizophrenia, and depression. The interaction between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex shows that brain circuits function not just as specific parts of the brain, but are linked together and work as a system.

“Although the prefrontal cortex has long been known to be the driving force that steers our behavior, pushing us to make good decisions and withhold improper actions, it turns out that it can’t do this unless it interacts with the hippocampus,” added Prof. Chudasama. “We found that when we prevented these two structures from communicating with each other, like humans with compulsive disorders, rats persisted with behaviours that were not good for them; they didn’t correct their errant behaviours and could not control their natural urges.

The ability to control impulsive urges or inhibit our actions allows us to interact normally in personal or social situations, and this type of behaviour depends on the normal interaction of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. This result provides a means for understanding the neural basis for social and cognitive deficits in disorders of brain and behaviour, such as those with frontotemporal dementia”, concludes Prof. Chudasama.

The Daily Galaxy via Journal of Neuroscience and http://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom

Image credit: : David Job/Getty Images

Comments

As the parent of a schizophrenic teenager, this is good news.

Makes sense to me. After my boyfriend's hippocampus was injured by an aneurysm bleed (leaving him with no short-term memory) impulse control was one of his persistent behavioral problems.

Horrible things are approaching. Humans never learn.

Another intuitive common sense insight 'proved' by granting funds to scientists to demonstrate something that was already obvious to most intelligent people.

Still, it does elaborate how brainwashing and social conditioning works - simply fuck around with a person's memory and that will help 'design' their attitudes and behaviour via their 'ntural tendency to inhibit'. It shows how if you get people from a young age and fill their heads with lies at school then you can ensure they grow up to be good little obedient citizens who never question the state or investigate things for themselves.

But more importantly, because this method uses the brain's natural functions, those people WILL NEVER KNOW that their behaviour and entire belief system has been PREDETERMINED.

Hence the other insight that it actually causes a person physical pain to change some long held belief...

As a computer scientist, I think that these findings make sense.

Form my perspective, this means that the human brain is able to use experiences from the past (hippocampus, a well-known memory structure) to guide actions (prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making). Computing theory would call this a "state-based system", meaning that - in general - the behavior (of a person) can only be predicted if we know what happened in the past.

No big deal, but at least comforting to know.

btw, why did scientists assume that the functions of memory and control were independent?

I'm kind of with Frank. That assumption seems like a flaw in the logical thinking of which the scientific community is often so vocally proud.

I've long held the belief that everything is interconnected, and this would include all sections of the brain. Why *wouldn't* each part of the brain connect to every other? Smell and music trigger memories, language works through both hearing and vision, tasks are learned through "muscle memory" so we don't have to think consciously about every step.

People think differently: some in words, some in pictures, some in numbers. (I personally think in associations.) A number of people in the world have absolute memory. Others can do complex math in a flash (and not all are autistic). Others have amazingly fast reflexes, or exceptionally find motor control. It strikes me as natural to see these things not as a matter of a certain part of the brain being better than in others' brains, but a matter of those brains being organized in a different way.

But hopefully this breakthrough will indeed help people such as alanc230's teen and Todd's boyfriend (to both of whom, by the way, I send my prayers and best wishes).

Good news for mankind.
My question is what took so long?It`s not that we have not had the tools for 10 years or more.
My guess is the misuse of the scientific method.
Many scientists in many disciplines make assumptions and then believe them to be true because they think they know the answer.An agenda.
Scientists think they are the God they deny.
Ah scientist, thy name is hubris.

The brain is a device acting as one, interactive unit, and the comment "...the driving force that steers our behavior, pushing us to make good decisions and withhold improper actions..." can´t be defined in such a simple manner, as making "good and/or bad decisions". This, considering the fact that the Brain is a quantic sub universe in itself, and the researches haven´t mentioned this, nor other, more un explored areas related with thought processes and operational capabilities far from being explored nor understood at this time. Once one manages to access a certain area, it becomes possible to deceive the brain and gain control of said area, in order to regenerate previously pin pointed damages of the organism. It even seems that the brain is incapable of initiative in order to regenerate a shattered kneecap, for instance, without instructions given by the willpower exercised and "imaged" by its ID. Once this know how is achieved by the "owner" of the brain (my brain, my body... etc., (concept, that indicates the ID/brain relationship..???) and one assumes the capability of controlling the aforementioned area, the "communication/generating response" is controlled/generated by will, using certain attitudes and training similar to yoga. It is possible that at some moment one may develop a more complete interaction with this immense and wonderful device. Up to this moment it has taken around 200 pages of translating and writing to develop the preceding capabilities and sometimes frustrating failures... It also has shown capabilities of influencing the surrounding environment and time.

No self-respecting neuroscientist really ever believed any brain structure functioned independently of the rest of the brain.

And please stop with this apocalyptic "humans never learn" gobbledygook. Historically, the general human population (not speaking for minority groups, natives, etc.) has increased in both benevolence and quality of life as a function of time. Subjective happiness never truly increases (as when old problems cease, even if they were more serious, new ones replace them), objectively, this is the best time categorically to be a human.

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