Perception to Action

According to a study out of the University of California Santa Barbara and published in the journal eLife, a researcher studying how the brain uses perception of the environment to guide action has a new understanding of the neural circuits responsible for transforming sensation into movement.

“Mapping perception to a future action seems simple,” said one neuroscientist researcher. “We do it all the time when we see a traffic light and use that information to guide our later motor action. However, how these associations are mapped across time in the brain is not well understood.”

Using the – though admittedly smaller, yet remarkably similar – mouse brain as a model for large-scale calcium imaging to measure the responses of individual neurons in multiple areas of the brain while mice performed a delayed response task. Using a powerful laser-scanning microscope, they were able to see far below the brain’s surface and detect the signals from calcium indicators expressed in the neurons well below the brain’s surface. They were able to see which neurons were active while the mice performed the delayed response task.

“As expected, we found many neurons that responded only during the visual stimulus or the licking action, but we also found a lot of neurons that responded during other parts of the task,” said another researcher. “In the frontal motor cortex, we found quite a few neurons that were active during the delay period between the visual stimulus and motor response. This led us to several new interpretations of the role that different brain regions were playing during performance of the task.”

They will go on to analyze which regions of the brain are essential for different types of cognitive tasks. There are so many potential medical advancements once researchers can see the results of these tests.


raziRazi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.

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