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ARTICLE  

Slow steady brain waves linked to state of consciousness

Ultra-slow brain waves have been recognized at while ago, but no one could determine what they were for. Researchers simply ignored these slow waves simply attributing them to the noise MRI data. New studies have shown that this ultra-slow rhythm is anything but noise.


By studying electrical activity in mouse brains, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that the ultra-slow waves are anything but noise. They are more like waves in the sea, with everything the brain does taking place in boats upon that sea. Research to date has been focused on the goings-on inside the boats, without much thought for the sea itself. But the new information suggests that the waves play a central role in how the complex brain coordinates itself and that the waves are directly linked to consciousness[...] Senior author Marcus Raichle, MD, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine and a professor of radiology at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at the School of Medicine [said:] "These slowly varying signals in the brain are a way to get a very large-scale coordination of the activities in all the diverse areas of the brain. When the wave goes up, areas become more excitable; when it goes down, they become less so." [...] Now we know that even when you feel like you're doing nothing, your brain is still humming along, burning almost as much energy daydreaming as solving a tough math problem [...] As the waves passed through each area of the brain, they enhanced the electrical activity there. Neurons fired more enthusiastically when a wave was in the vicinity [...]



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