A Top-Down View Of Neuroplasticity Suggests?
It’s clear that neuroplasticity plays a role in everything from memory formation to skill learning. But what’s less clear is how it works. A new study published in the journal Cell Reports provides some insights, suggesting that neuroplasticity may be driven in part by top-down signals from the brain.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, used a combination of optogenetics and light-sheet microscopy to map out the activity of neurons in the brains of live mice. They found that when a mouse was engaged in a task that required neuroplasticity – such as learning to balance on a beam – there was increased activity in a particular set of neurons known as “supplementary motor area” (SMA) neurons.
Interestingly, when the researchers stimulated these SMA neurons directly, they found that it enhanced the mouse’s ability to learn the task. This suggests that the SMA may be sending top-down signals that drive neuroplasticity in the brain.
The findings are still preliminary, and it’s not yet clear how applicable they are to humans. But they offer an intriguing glimpse into the inner workings of neuroplasticity, and how it may be influenced by higher-level brain activity.