Science

Fluctuating Brain Network Helps People Think Better

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 04, 2016 03:52 AM EDT
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Our brain is very much complex and scientists are still trying to understand how it works. The brain is made up of different areas, and many have associated different areas for different functions. Researchers though have found that this organization isn't fixed or static and that a level of coordination is being made between areas whenever stimulus activates the brain.

Researchers at Stanford University have noted that as the brain becomes active, coordination between areas in it also ebb and flow. They have found out that as the brain becomes more integrated, people could perform tasks better, as Stanford's site states.

Lead author of the study is Mac Shine together with Professor Russell Poldrack, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. In the study, the researchers used data from the Human Connectome Project.

To test out their findings they have used a technique to examine functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. They analyzed the brains of people at rest and have found that even without much activity the blood flow in the brain fluctuates higher and lower within certain regions. The researchers then compared this with data of people who completed a memory test.

When the brain is active, they have found that there is more integration in the brain than there is when people are at rest. Their research has also found that people who performed tasks faster and with better accuracy have brains that are more interconnected, Science Daily reports.

"This research shows these really clear relationships between how the brain is functioning at a network level and how the person's actually performing on these psychological tasks," Professor Poldrack observed of the results.

Pupil size among the subjects was also evaluated. The researchers found that larger pupils during rest stood for more connectivity in the brain. Enlarged pupils equated to stronger signals in the brain that are being amplified while weaker signals are being muted. The stronger signals being used by the brain then helps a person to think or perform tasks better.

Research will continue as scientists also want to explore their findings relations to other tasks, such as attention and memory. In time their research might also help in other areas such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's. Shine though notes that the research has been made to simply know more about the brain.

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