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Neurons Are Fickle. Electric Fields Are More Reliable for Information.

By April 6, 2022April 10th, 2022No Comments

As the brain strives to hold information in mind, such as the list of groceries we need to buy on the way home, a new study suggests that the most consistent and reliable representation of that information is not the electrical activity of the individual neurons involved, but an overall electric field they collectively produce.

Indeed, whenever neuroscientists have looked at how brains represent information in working memory, they’ve found that from one trial to the next, even when repeating the same task, the participation and activity of individual cells varies (a phenomenon called “representational drift”). In a new study in NeuroImage, scientists at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT and the University of London found that regardless of which specific neurons were involved, the overall electric field that was generated provided a stable and consistent signal of the information the animals were tasked to remember.