June 13 Nature article: Deciphering the Neuronal Code
Buzsaki, professor at Rutgers-Newark's Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, said that the research published in the journal Nature, "Spike train dynamics predicts theta-related phase precission in hippocampal pyramidal cells," revealed new aspects of the code by which neurons (brain cells) communicate with each other. Buzsaki's collaborators include Kenneth D. Harris, Darrell A. Henze, Hajime Hirase, Xavier Leinekugel, George Dragoi, and Andras Czurko.
Buzsaki compares the way brain neurons communicate to a talking drum. "Perhaps the most fundamental problem of neuroscience is to decipher the code which the neuron uses to encode its message into a sequence of electrical events," said Buzsaki. His collaborator, Ken Harris, notes that evidence over the last decade "strongly suggests a temporal code is employed, and that the precise rhythm of the neuronal drum beat is also used to convey information."
Buzsaki's research found that the rhythms a neuron may play are not random, "but obey certain rules, which are followed by the whole population of neurons." He said the new findings provide clues to how brain rhythms assist brain cells to represent information in the temporal domain, similar to melodies played on a musical instrument. Timing is of the essence in the brain. Moreover, Buzsaki said researchers "showed that this complex behavior can be expla
Contact: Helen Paxton
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey