Researchers Want to Restore ‘Good Noise’ in Older Brains

Listening The brain, one of the best tools for neuroscientists is the fMRI scan, which helps map blood flow, which is why oxygen spikes are found every time a certain area of ​​the brain is activated. It reveals a noisy world. Blood oxygen levels vary from time to time, but those spikes are never broken. “Your brain, even when breathing, is not silent,” says Poortata Lalwani, a PhD student in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Michigan. He imagines the brain, even in its quiet state, like a tennis player waiting for his turn to return food: “He will not stand still. “She’s been moving slowly, ready to hit the back.”

Most fMRI studies filter the noise to detect spikes that researchers want to monitor. But for Lalwani, noise is the most recognizable sign of all. For him, it is a symbol of cognitive instability. The young, healthy brain has symptoms of fluctuations in oxygen in the blood from time to time. Older people are slightly different, especially in other areas of the brain.

Nearly a decade ago, scientists demonstrated for the first time the link between neural signaling fluctuations and the type of cognitive decline that is associated with healthy aging, rather than directly. dementia. Cerebral palsy is a reliable way to get clear information, Lalwani said: “How to transmit information efficiently, how well nerve connects, often how the lower extremities work properly.”

Koma because that change happens over the years has been a mystery. So is the question that can be changed.

Mu printed results in November in Journal of Neuroscience, Lalwani Group showed that low doses of Lorazepam, an antidepressant, can change immersion in symptomatic fluctuations, at least temporarily. These drugs trigger neurotransmitters in the brain but make them more active, ready to respond and respond more quickly. In this study, the psychological symptoms of older participants who had previously not performed well on cognitive functioning returned to noisy groups that appeared to be younger.

“A decade or so ago, most people thought brain mutation was a bad thing,” says Cheryl Grady, a neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute who studied neuroscience but did not participate in Lalwani’s research. But now, hearing, more and more people are realizing the potential of this new metric. “I really like the whole process.”

By mid-2008, researchers began to suspect that the so-called fMRI signal noises had a deeper meaning. By 2010, Douglas Garrett, a PhD student, had demonstrated that variations in fMRI blood oxygen signatures predicted a person’s age better than the size of the spikes in those calculations. The idea was that a permanent deviation – a measure of how the signatures were similar or different in the raw dataset – could tell a myth that increasing spike size would not be possible.

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