Posts Tagged ‘working memory research’

Working Memory Research: Brain In A Dish

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Working Memory in an Ad Hoc Neural Network

In novel working memory research, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh used neural cultures from rats’ brains to create a functioning neural network in the laboratory. With just 40 to 60 neurons the researchers were surprised to find that the ad hoc neural network had a working memory span of up to 12 seconds.

Atop a silicon disk coated with proteins the scientists cultured embryonic hippocampus cells. Over time the cells formed a ring-shaped neural network able to transmit and receive electrical signals.

Stimulating the neurons with an electrical pulse, the team discovered that the network could circulate the pulse for up to 12 seconds, a surprising and dramatic result. This ability for the network to maintain information represents a form of working memory.

“Persistent activity in the brain is involved in working memory and motor planning. The ability of the brain to hold information ‘online’ long after an initiating stimulus is a hallmark of brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex.”

This and future research promises to tell us a lot about the functions of working memory formation and retrieval.