“Cytoelectric Coupling”: A Groundbreaking Hypothesis On How Our Brains Function

A new paper titled ‘Cytoelectric Coupling’ by researchers at MIT, City University of London, and Johns Hopkins University is a groundbreaking hypothesis on how our brains function.

Brain waves act as carriers of information. A recently proposed “Cytoelectric Coupling” hypothesis suggests that these wavering electric fields contribute to the optimization of the brain network’s efficiency and robustness. They do this by influencing the physical configuration of the brain’s molecular framework.

In order to carry out its multifaceted functions, which include thought, the brain operates on various levels. Information like objectives or visuals is depicted through synchronized electrical activity among neuronal networks. Simultaneously, a combination of proteins and other biochemicals within and surrounding each neuron physically execute the mechanics required for participation in these networks.

A new paper by researchers at MIT, City University of London, and Johns Hopkins University posits that the electrical fields of the network influence the physical configuration of neurons’ sub-cellular components to optimize network stability and efficiency, a hypothesis the authors call “Cytoelectric Coupling.”

Earl K. Miller delivers a talk on his recent work at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. Credit: MIT Picower Institute

“The information the brain is processing has a role in fine-tuning the network down to the molecular level,” said Earl K. Miller, Picower Professor in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, who co-authored the paper in Progress in Neurobiology with Associate Professor Dimitris Pinotsis of MIT and City —University of London, and Professor Gene Fridman of Johns Hopkins.

“The brain adapts to a changing world,” Pinotsis said. “Its proteins and molecules change too. They can have electric charges and need to catch up with neurons that process, store, and transmit information using electric signals. Interacting with the neurons’ electric fields seems necessary.”

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