Bernstein Network News. Find the latest news from our researchers regarding current research results, new research projects and initiatives as well as awards and prizes.
Intelligent brains take longer to solve difficult problems
Do intelligent people think faster? Researchers at the BIH and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, together with a colleague from Barcelona, made the surprising finding that participants with higher intelligence scores were only quicker when tackling simple tasks, while they took longer to solve difficult problems than subjects with lower IQ scores. In personalized brain simulations of the 650 participants, the researchers could determine that brains with reduced synchrony between brain areas literally “jump to conclusions” when making decisions, rather than waiting until upstream brain regions could complete the processing steps needed to solve the problem. In fact, the brain models for higher score participants also needed more time to solve challenging tasks but made fewer errors. The scientists have now published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Theoretical biologists uncover novel mechanism for flight control in fruit flies
Researchers at the Institute for Theoretical Biology at Humboldt Universität have solved a long-standing mathematical puzzle about the emergence of electrical activity patterns during insect flight. Together with colleagues at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, they report a novel function for electrical synapses in governing the flight of fruit flies in the current issue of Nature.
AI helps understand learning processes
How does the brain learn spatial information? Neural computation researchers are using artificial intelligence to explore this question.
A Berlin elephant that peels bananas
A team from Humboldt University and the Zoo Berlin report on the banana-peeling elephant Pang Pha at Zoo Berlin in the new issue of the journal Current Biology.
How the brain slows down when we focus our gaze
Changing between slow and fast integration of information, the brain can flexibly modulate the timescales on which it operates. This is the result of a new study by an international team of researchers, now published in the journal Nature Communications. Their analysis of experimental data from the visual cortex and their computer simulations also provide an explanation for how different timescales can arise and how they can change: the structure of the neural networks determines how fast or slow information is integrated.
Evolutionary origins of the brain
Human Frontier Science Program funds research project coordinated in Göttingen.
Function follows form in neuronal networks
Information transfer in the brain relies on the activation of functional neuronal chains that are embedded within a highly recurrent network. Obviously, neuronal activity should neither fade along the chain nor expand uncontrollably activating contextually irrelevant regions of the network, both entailing a loss of information. It has been proposed therefore that the brain must operate near a critical point of a phase transition between fading and explosive neuronal activity dynamics. Considered as a branching process, active individual neurons should then, on average, activate exactly one further neuron during activity cascades that have been termed neuronal avalanches. Put into a simple phrase: "Fire a neuron – Hire a neuron".
Scallop Eyes as Inspiration for New Microscope Objectives
Neuroscientists at the University of Zurich have developed innovative objectives for light microscopy by using mirrors to produce images. Their design finds correspondence in mirror telescopes used in astronomy on the one hand and the eyes of scallops on the other. The new objectives enable high-resolution imaging of tissues and organs in a much wider variety of immersion media than with conventional microscope lenses.
The PHENOMOBILE – Research with children for children
Innovative and unique worldwide: researchers from UMG and the University of Göttingen are developing a mobile examination laboratory for decoding early childhood development.
Competition between brain hemispheres during sleep
Human beings are bilaterally symmetrical. As such, our brains are made of two halves called hemispheres, that communicate with each other with specialized fiber tracts running across the midline. While each hemisphere tends to deal with the senses (vision, hearing, touch) and motor control of the opposite side of the body, we are generally not aware of this partitioning of function, thanks to constant inter-hemispheric communication. In humans, the two hemispheres are also specialized for certain functions: language areas, for example, are typically in the left hemisphere.