Recent research conducted by the Yuste lab suggests a new basis for ‘novelty detection’ in the brain. In order to make sense of myriad sensory stimuli in our environments, the brain needs to suppress responses to predictable stimuli while increasing responses to novel stimuli. To explore how the brain does this, the team used two-photon calcium imaging, a technique that they helped pioneer and which is able to image the activity of an entire brain region, in vivo, with single-neuron resolution. This method revealed that certain neurons on the top layers of the cerebral cortex selectively respond to novel sensory stimuli. This surprising finding was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This finding has potential clinical significance, because people with major psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia exhibit deficiencies in novelty detection. Dr. Jordan Hamm, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Yuste lab and lead author of the study, told Columbia News that the finding could be “a potential game changer for how sensory deficits are studied and understood in psychiatry.”
To learn more, read the full Columbia News story here.