Despite significant advances in brain imaging and cognitive science, neuroscientists continue to search for how the brain develops and retains perceptions and memories.
Emerging evidence suggests that a group of neurons can represent each unique piece of information, but no one knows just what these ensembles look like, or how they form.
In a new study, researchers at MIT and Boston University gained insight into how neural ensembles form thoughts and support the flexibility to change one’s mind.
Researchers identified groups of neurons that encode specific behavioral rules by oscillating in synchrony with each other. The results suggest that the nature of conscious thought may be rhythmic.
“As we talk, thoughts float in and out of our heads. Those are all ensembles forming and then reconfiguring to something else. It’s been a mystery how the brain does this,” said researcher Earl Miller, Ph.D. “That’s the fundamental problem that we’re talking about — the very nature of thought itself.”