Saturday, October 29, 2005

Brain's internal clocks and timing

Let's take a look at an interesting finding on the brain - from a new Nature Reviews Neuroscience article. This report gives new meaning to "internal clock!"

"The brain is a 'time machine,' say Duke neuroscientists Catalin Buhusi and Warren Meck. And understanding how the brain tracks time is essential to understanding all its functions. The brain's internal clocks coordinate a vast array of activities from communicating, to orchestrating movement, to getting food. Buhusi and Meck discuss the current state of understanding of one of the brain's most important, and mysterious, clocks - the one governing timing intervals in the seconds to minutes range. Such interval timing occupies the middle neurological ground between two other clocks - the circadian clock that operates over the 24-hour light-dark cycle, and the millisecond clock that is crucial for such functions as motor control and speech generation and recognition."

Meck says, "We're addressing two challenges. One is to find the molecular processes that underlie this internal clock. And the second challenge is to build more realistic models of how this timing process works, with constant, parallel input from throughout the brain." In these studies, the researchers say they "face the daunting process of trying to monitor the intricate swirling of neural activity throughout the entire brain."


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