Research press release


Nature Communications

Neuroscience: Keeping it real with brain recordings


脳の活動を記録する方法、例えば、機能的磁気共鳴画像法(fMRI)は、ほとんどの場合に、自然環境の影響を大きく減らした実験的状況下で用いられる。したがって、絶えず変化する環境要因と現実の状況下で起こる社会的相互作用は、現実の状況下で変化する脳の活動を調べる際の大きな制約となっている。今回、Josef Parviziたちは、この問題を解決するため、あらかじめ電極を頭蓋内に移植した3人のてんかん患者について、計算問題を解いているときと数を話題にした社交上の会話を行っているときの神経活動の記録をとった。その結果、実験的状況下で計算問題を解いているときに最も強く、最も選択的な応答を示し電極は、現実の状況下では、最も疎で選択的な活性化パターンを示した。つまり、Parviziたちは、明示的な思考過程だけでなく、黙示的な思考過程についての神経基盤も同定したのだった。


The development of a method to accurately characterize the activity of specific neuronal populations under both experimental and naturalistic conditions is described in this week’s Nature Communications. The approach provides a means for exploring human brain activity in complex social settings and the reconstruction of natural experiences from brain signals - something that has not previously been possible outside of a laboratory setting.

Approaches for recording brain activity, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, are mostly used in experimental settings in which the influence of the natural environment is substantially reduced. Ever-changing environmental factors and social interactions that occur in real-life situations therefore pose significant limitations on the study of brain activity as it changes during real life settings. To solve this problem, Josef Parvizi and colleagues obtained intracranial brain recordings from three epileptic individuals with pre-implanted electrodes. They recorded neural activity in the patients when they were participating in an arithmetic exercise and during social conversations that include numerical content. They found that electrodes with the strongest and most selective responses during the experimental arithmetic exercise were also the ones that had the most sparse and selective activation patterns during real life settings. In other words, the authors were able to identify neural correlates of not only explicit thought processes, but implicit thought processes too.

Although the authors acknowledge that the responses recorded by the electrodes did not always follow this rule, they hope that their study will help to develop more sophisticated and less invasive methods for assessing more complex brain activity.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms3528

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