Sign up for Englemed updates from TwitterSign up for Englemed updates from Facebook
Contact Englemed
Our contact email address.
We can provide a specialist, tailored health and medical news service for your site.
Click here for more information
RSS graphic XML Graphic Add to Google
About Englemed news services - services and policies.
Englemed News Blog - Ten years and counting.
Diary of a reluctant allergy sufferer - How the British National Health Service deals with allergy.
BookshopFor books on women's health, healthy eating ideas, mental health issues, diabetes, etc click here

WWW Englemed
Copyright Notice. All reports, text and layout copyright Englemed Ltd, 52 Perry Avenue, Birmingham UK B42 2NE. Co Registered in England No 7053778 Some photos copyright Englemed Ltd, others may be used with permission of copyright owners.
Disclaimer: Englemed is a news service and does not provide health advice. Advice should be taken from a medical professional or appropriate health professional about any course of treatment or therapy.
Heart failure ranked 'less important than potholes'
Tues June 28th - Heart failure is deemed less important than potholes in roads and pavements in the UK, according to an analysis published today. More
Cannabis users' increased risk of hospital admission
Tues June 28th - Canadian researchers have called for curbs on the globally rising levels of recreational cannabis because users have an increased risk of needing emergency care and hospital admission for any cause. More
On 09/10/2020 William Haworth wrote:
How long is recovery time after proceedure... on Ablation cuts atrial fibrillat...
On 08/02/2018 David Kelly wrote:
Would you like to write a piece about this to be i... on Researchers unveil new pain re...
On 23/10/2017 Cristina Pereira wrote: on HIV breakthrough - MRC...
On 12/09/2017 Aparna srikantam wrote:
Brilliant finding! indeed a break through in under... on Leprosy research breakthrough...
On 01/07/2017 Annetta wrote:
I have been diagnosed with COPD for over 12 years.... on Seaweed plan for antimicrobial...

Research into to brain’s ‘free will’

Tuesday April 9th, 2013

Scientists are looking to see if they can “interfere” with how to brain consciously makes decisions after successfully pin-pointing the exact moment when its nerve cells create the signal to carry out an action, it was revealed today.

Professor Gabriel Kreiman, associate professor at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, and neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried, of the University of California at Los Angeles, will tell delegates at the Festival of Neuroscience in London this week how neurons create the signal before we are even aware that we will perform the action.

They hope their work could be useful in helping to understand which neuronal circuits are in charge of “free will”.

The scientists had a rare opportunity to record the activity of more than 1,000 neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes, among epilepsy patients who had electrodes implanted to try to identify the source of their seizures.

Fried implanted their brains with microwires to capture the extracellular electrical activity of neurons and the researchers were able to “interrogate the activity of neurons and neural ensembles in the human brain at high spatial and temporal resolution”, according to Prof Kreiman.

Patients were asked to move their index finger to click a computer mouse and to report when they made that decision.

“Based on the activity of small groups of neurons, we could predict this decision several hundreds of milliseconds and, in some cases, seconds before the action. In a variant of the main experiment, the patients were allowed to choose whether to use their left hand or right hand and we showed that we could also predict this decision,” said Prof Kreiman.

He will tell delegates at the conference, which takes place at the Barbican Centre in London between April 7 and 10, that “the activity of multiple neurons in extremely simple neural circuits precedes volition – in this case the decision to make a simple movement – until a threshold is crossed and the action is taken”.

* Delegates will also hear from two UK academics who will report that one of the main ingredients of “legal high” Benzo Fury acts on brain tissue like both a stimulant and a hallucinogen.

This combination is often found in illegal drugs and which can make them dangerous to users, say Dr Jolanta Opacka-Juffry, principal lecturer in neuroscience and director of the health sciences research centre at the University of Roehampton, and Dr Colin Davidson, senior lecturer in neuropharmacology and expert in drugs of addiction at St George’s University of London.

They studied the effect of 5-APB, which is also known as 5-(2-aminopropyl) benzofuran, on samples from the brains of rats, focusing in particular at the effect it had on serotonin receptors and compared the effects of 5-APB with those caused by cocaine and amphetamine.

“We have found that 5-APB behaves a little like amphetamine – that is, like a stimulant with addictive potential – and a bit like a hallucinogen, acting via serotonin receptors. This kind of mixed properties can be found in some illegal ‘designer’ drugs,” says Dr Opacka-Juffry.

“This finding is significant because it demonstrates that some ‘legal highs’ may have addictive properties, which are unlikely to be well-known amongst the users of these drugs. In addition, its effects on the serotonin receptors – known as 5-HT2A receptors – would suggest that it may lead to high blood pressure by causing constriction of the blood vessels, which would make the drug more dangerous.

“It is possible that the reason these drugs are so popular is because they are seen as safer than their illegal counterparts. It is important to challenge these assumptions.”

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Drug & Alcohol Abuse | General Health | Mental Health | North America | UK News

Printer friendly page Printer friendly page

Comment on this article:

<a>,<b> & <p> tags allowed
Please enter the letters displayed:
(not case sensitive)