Brain wiring and firing

This weeks pre-reading consisted of a chapter “Wiring the brain”. It describes from the perspective of vision how brain neurons are born, how they find their targets, and how they are modified in the developing brain. This chapter was harder to grasp than the previous ones, as it required prerequisite knowledge of how brains develop in order to fully understand the text. Also it was required to remember visual pathways, and the way they innervate the brain structures. On the other hand, it was good time to refresh memories on previously mentioned topics.

After the ways in which neurons grow and innervate the developing brain structures, brain plasticity was introduced. It was particularly interesting, and the timing was good, as Helsinki University’s “Science Basement” organized a talk “Brain plasticity: When the brain changes its mind”. In this talk, researcher Giuliano Didio introduced a research about how to reproduce critical period alike brain plasticity. This same research was introduced in the Brain and Mind symposium, but this time the prerequisite knowledge was better to understand the talk. 🙂 Also it was nice to understand Hebbian modifications concretely. I’ve read previously about the concept, and also Hebbian learning is a familiar concept from the side of machine learning.

We couldn’t unfortunately meet in person this week with our group, but we nonetheless managed to spark some conversation about the topics. We wondered how early and precisely one could monitor the growing brain and detect developmental disorders in fetus. If this would be possible, could we already beforehand make correcting moves?

On the end of the chapter, it was nice to see some thoughts about long term potentiation to finally understand what it means. It seems that in this course we are not touching memory systems more, but it sounds interesting and I think it would be worth a read!

Until next week.

Posted by Teemu Sormunen

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