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Brain areas that process reality

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  • medit8ionsociety
    From the Medical News Today web site: Brain areas that process reality 10 Feb 2004 Marvin Gaye wailed in the 60s hit Heard it through the Grapevine that
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2004
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      From the Medical News Today web site:

      Brain areas that process reality
      10 Feb 2004

      Marvin Gaye wailed in the '60s hit 'Heard it through the Grapevine'
      that we're supposed to believe just half of what we see.

      But a new collaborative study involving a biomedical engineer at
      Washington University in St. Louis and neurobiologists at the
      University of Pittsburgh shows that sometimes you can't believe
      anything that you see.

      More importantly, the researchers have identified areas of the brain
      where what we're actually doing (reality) and what we think we're
      doing (illusion, or perception) are processed.

      Daniel Moran, Ph.D., Washington University assistant professor of
      biomedical engineering and neurobiology, and University of Pittsburgh
      colleagues Andrew B. Schwartz, Ph.D., and G. Anthony Reina, M.D.,
      focused on studying perception and playing visual tricks on macaque
      monkeys and some human subjects.

      They created a virtual reality video game to trick the monkeys into
      thinking that they were tracing ellipses with their hands, though they
      actually were moving their hands in a circle.

      They monitored nerve cells in the monkeys enabling them to see what
      areas of the brain represented the circle and which areas represented
      the ellipse.

      They found that the primary motor cortex represented the actual
      movement while the signals from cells in a neighboring area, called
      the ventral premotor cortex, were generating elliptical shapes.

      Monkey thought it saw, then monkey didn't do.

      The research shows how the mind creates its sense of order in the
      world and then adjusts on the fly to eliminate distortions.

      For instance, the first time you don a new pair of bifocals, there is
      a difference in what you perceive visually and what your hand does
      when you go to reach for something. With time, though, the brain
      adjusts so that vision and action become one. The ventral premotor
      complex plays a major role in that process.

      Knowing how the brain works to distinguish between action and
      perception will enhance efforts to build biomedical devices that can
      control artificial limbs, some day enabling the disabled to move a
      prosthetic arm or leg by thinking about it.

      Results were published in the Jan. 16, 2004 issue of Science.

      'Previous studies have explored when things are perceived during an
      illusion, but this is the first study to show what is being perceived
      instead of when it is happening,' said Moran. 'People didn't know how
      it was encoded. And we also find that the brain areas involved are
      right next to each other.'

      The researchers next plan to record and determine how the
      transformation takes place by recording in both areas simultaneously.

      'We might let the monkeys know that they are making a mistake and see
      how they rectify that. What I think is most interesting involves motor
      learning. We want to see how the brain learns and adapts its encoding
      parameters to account for visual illusions.'
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