The search for optimum mental performance may lead to a quiet peaceful spot, Yale neuroscientists say.
Researchers at Yale and colleagues have investigated the brain state that gives rise to optimal mental performance — the neurological sweet spot between sleep and counterproductive hyper-arousal. While much is known about brain activity during sleep, waking is marked by many different, but similar, brain states.
Work from the laboratories of neurobiologists Jessica Cardin and David McCormick suggests that increased release of key neurotransmitters acetylcholine and norepinephrine, in both the peripheral and central nervous systems, work to create the optimal state for mental and physical performance. Martin Vinck in the Cardin laboratory, has shown, for instance, that a quick poke to the ribs of a drowsy subject can jolt both the brain and body simultaneously into an alert phase. Matthew McGinley in the McCormick laboratory has shown that mice running strenuously perform worse on tasks than mice that are rested and relaxed. “For some goals, Tai chi may work better than sprinting,” Cardin comments.
Still Aroused: How Behavioral State Impacts Sensory Processing A brief tour through the brain during a transition from quiet to active states. Researchers at Yale University explain how brain activity changes with behavior and what that means for how the brain deals with information about the environment.
About this neuroscience research
Source: Bill Hathaway – Yale Image Credit: The image is adapted from the cellvideoabstracts video Video Source: The videos are available via the cellvideoabstracts YouTube page Original Research:Abstract for “Waking State: Rapid Variations Modulate Neural and Behavioral Responses” by Matthew J. McGinley, Martin Vinck, Jacob Reimer, Renata Batista-Brito, Edward Zagha, Cathryn R. Cadwell, Andreas S. Tolias, Jessica A. Cardin, and David A. McCormick in Neuron. Published online September 23 2015 doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.09.012
Waking State: Rapid Variations Modulate Neural and Behavioral Responses
The state of the brain and body constantly varies on rapid and slow timescales. These variations contribute to the apparent noisiness of sensory responses at both the neural and the behavioral level. Recent investigations of rapid state changes in awake, behaving animals have provided insight into the mechanisms by which optimal sensory encoding and behavioral performance are achieved. Fluctuations in state, as indexed by pupillometry, impact both the “signal” (sensory evoked response) and the “noise” (spontaneous activity) of cortical responses. By taking these fluctuations into account, neural response (co)variability is significantly reduced, revealing the brain to be more reliable and predictable than previously thought.
“Waking State: Rapid Variations Modulate Neural and Behavioral Responses” by Matthew J. McGinley, Martin Vinck, Jacob Reimer, Renata Batista-Brito, Edward Zagha, Cathryn R. Cadwell, Andreas S. Tolias, Jessica A. Cardin, and David A. McCormick in Neuron. Published online September 23 2015 doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.09.012