Every few seconds, an electrical activity wave will travel through the brain. It can be likened to a large swell of wave that moves through the ocean. These ultra slow undulations were first detected by scientists several decades ago in fMRI or functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of both people and animals that are at rest. However, the phenomena were only thought of them as electrical noise. There were also others who thought that is was just a mere sum of brain signals that are much faster which led to it being ignored altogether.
Recently, a study that measured these brain waves as they were observed in mice point to how they are distinct types of brain activities that actually depend on the conscious rate of the animal. Still, the bigger questions remain especially in terms of the origin of the waves as well as their actual function and scientists and researchers that have been studying consciousness for years like Baroness Susan Greenfield are constantly on a lookout to find answers to the many baffling questions that have remained unanswered even now.
When one undergoes a fMRI scan, the machine detects the changes in that person’s blood flow. These changes are assumed to be linked to the brain’s neural activity. When people are put under the fMRI scanner without any movement, the signal can look quite noisy. This is why many are now raising questions on what the signals mean.
It was also discovered that the infraslow brain waves travelled through the rodents’ brains’ cortical layers when they were awake. However, the waves changed direction the moment that the animals were put under anaesthesia. The researchers involved in the study stated that the waves are distinct from delta waves which can be between 1 to 4 Hz, as well as other instances where brain activity in the higher frequency is present. Infraslow waves are only at 0.1 Hz.
Based on the study, these very slow brain waves may have a crucial role in terms of how the brain works. Many researchers are praising the general approach taken for the study. However, they are still sceptical whether it really does show that the infraslow brain waves are indeed distinct from the rest of the activities in the brain.
Still, it is best not to just jump into conclusion about the overall findings of the study. There is certainly a need for more studies in the field in order to get a better grasp of the relationships between the different types of signals in the brain. This can take a long time though especially since these patterns are considered to be quite new. This is why successfully figuring out what exactly they are may prove to be quite difficult.
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