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Scientists Find Clues To Crack "Neural Code" of The Brain

Decoding the complex electrical signals that brain cells use to "talk" to each other is a new and important frontier in neuroscience, one that could revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disease.

Now, a multicenter team, led by a researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, says they have uncovered a vital clue to help decode that neural language.

The groundbreaking work is published in Nature.

"We discovered that the specific timing of these electrical pulses is crucial to interpreting how the neural code works as the brain represents what it sees in the natural environment. Understanding the 'time scales' that matter to the brain gives us insight into which units of the neural code we need to focus on if we ever hope to decode it," explains lead author Dr. Daniel A. Butts, who is an Institute Fellow and instructor of computational neuroscience at the HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Institute for Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell.

The term "neural code" may be unfamiliar to most people, but it underlies nearly everything the brain's trillions of cells do each millisecond.

"The neural code is the key to understanding the patterns of electrical impulses that neurons use to communicate. These electrical patterns allow the brain to make sense of incoming stimuli, make decisions based on that information, and coordinate its activities to carry out tasks," Dr. Butts explains.

Trouble is, right now scientists have no way of interpreting this neural language.

"It's like we're hearing Morse code, but have no training in understanding what the separate beeps and dashes mean," Dr. Butts says. "And the brain's neural code is infinitely more complex than Morse code."

Unraveling the neural code would undoubtedly be a major milestone for science.

Click here to see the rest of this article in Medical News Today

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