A research have discovered new ways to help navigate certain brainwaves. They hope that one day, patients with neurodegenerative disorders will profit from the techniques.
The brain seems to be implementing a spatial navigation GPS scheme; however, the way it operates is not yet fully grasped.
In the journal Science Advances, researchers from Freiburg, Bochum, and Beijing now indicate that rhythmic changes in brain activity may play a part in this phase.
These brainwaves may assist to remember where an individual navigates.
This is the outcome of the research carried out with patients with epilepsy who has implanted electrodes in the brain for surgical planning purposes.
The scientists registered neuronal activity in a virtual reality environment during a navigation assignment with the help of these electrodes.
A team led by Dr. Lukas Kunz of the Universitätsklinikum Freiburg and Professor Nikolai Axmacher of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum Department of Neuropsychology released their results in Science Advances on 3 July 2019.
Experiments in virtual reality
Previous studies showed that brain oscillations during navigation showed a distinctive pattern.
Theta oscillations appear to play a vital part in this phase, during which brain activity changes at a frequency of about four Hertz.
But it had not been fully understood how, exactly, they support spatial navigation.
In the studies, patients with epilepsy learned to associate individual items in a virtual environment with particular places. The scientists recognized a distinctive pattern of brain activity for each of the gained object-location associations.
The respondents subsequently had to remember which object was linked to which place.
While navigating in the virtual environment to that place, the brain reactivates the patterns of location-specific activity.
Brain activity reactivation for various object-location pairs happened during the theta cycles at separate points of time.
“Theta oscillations can, therefore, coordinate the reactivation of various memories and can also assist to differentiate between competing memories,” claims Lukas Kunz.
Searching for Alzheimer’s biomarker
“Many disorders are associated with memory loss and disorientation, so gaining knowledge of the underlying neuronal mechanisms is of vital importance,” describes Nikolai Axmacher.
The scientist based in Bochum and his peers hope that these trials can help define novel biomarkers for neurological disorders of this kind, according to “Medical Express.