2007 News Articles-Department of Biological Sciences - Carnegie Mellon University

Associate Professor Nathan Urban and researchers from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition Describe the "Dynamic Connectivity" Mechanism

December 17 , 2007

Associate Professor Nathan UrbanResearchers from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a joint project of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, have for the first time described a mechanism called "dynamic connectivity," in which neuronal circuits are rewired "on the fly" allowing stimuli to be more keenly sensed. The process is described in a paper in the January 2008 issue of Nature Neuroscience, and available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn2030.

This new, biologically inspired algorithm for analyzing the brain at work allows scientists to explain why when we notice a scent, the brain can quickly sort through input and determine exactly what that smell is.

"If you think of the brain like a computer, then the connections between neurons are like the software that the brain is running. Our work shows that this biological software is changed rapidly as a function of the kind of input that the system receives," said Nathan Urban, associate professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon.

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