New model gives 3D reconstruction of the brain's memory structures
7 October 2014
Researchers at Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum have developed a new
method for creating 3D models of memory-relevant brain structures.
They published their results in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.
The way neurons are interconnected in the brain is very
complicated. This holds especially true for the cells of the
hippocampus. It is one of the oldest brain regions and its form
resembles a see horse (hippocampus in Latin). The hippocampus
enables us to navigate space securely and to form personal memories.
Up to now, the anatomic knowledge of the networks inside the
hippocampus and its connection to the rest of the brain has left
scientists guessing which information arrived where and when.
Accordingly, Dr Martin Pyka and his colleagues from the Mercator
Research Group have developed a method which facilitates the
reconstruction of the brain's anatomic data as a 3D computerised
model. This approach is quite unique, because it enables automatic
calculation of the neural interconnection on the basis of their
position inside the space and their projection directions.
Biologically feasible network structures can thus be generated more
easily than used to be the case with the method available to date.
3D image of the hippocampus of a rat
Deploying 3D models, the researchers use this technique to
monitor the way neural signals spread throughout the network
time-wise. They have, for example, found evidence that the
hippocampus’ form and size could explain why neurons in those
networks fire at certain frequencies.
In future, this method may help us understand how animals, for
example, combine various pieces of information to form memories
within the hippocampus, in order to memorise food sources or dangers
and to remember them in certain situations.
Pyka M, Klatt S and Cheng S (2014): Parametric Anatomical
Modeling: A method for modeling the anatomical layout of neurons and
their projections, Front. Neuroanat. 8:91, doi: