August 11, 2020

The brain takes only 200 milliseconds to process information


How long does it take for the brain to become aware of its surroundings? Scientists know that it is very little, extremely little, but a study by Spanish researchers has assessed it now: just 200 milliseconds, the time in which it transmits information through the different brain areas.

This is evidenced by an international research on brain dynamics led by the director of the Center of Gognition and Brain of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), Gustavo Deco, published in the journal Nature Communications and in which Josephine Cruzat and Professor Morten Kringelbach of the Universities of Oxford (United Kingdom) and Aarhus (Denmark) have also participated. .

The time scale is a key factor for the conscious processing of information. Once the information enters the brain, it must be readily available in many areas for the stimulus to be consciously perceived, according to the authors of the research.

A recent study in primates obtained records of several brain areas and found that the appearance of a visual stimulus is associated with a strong sustained activity in the prefrontal cortex -about 200-250 milliseconds- when the animal reports having seen the stimulus-. Faced with the same stimulus, this frontal activity was much weaker and faster when the stimuli were not conscious and therefore were not reported.

«The new space-time framework, which poetically we have called «songs of the brain», It provides relevant data about the networks that are involved in the transmission of information at this rapid time scale and at the level of the brain as a whole. As such, these results support and extend the knowledge we had until now about when information becomes consciously available in the human brain, "explains Gustavo Deco.

«More generally,« brain songs »could be used to understand why the time scale of conscious processing changes in some diseases and how these new findings might have important implications in understanding the existing changes in neuropsychiatric disease, and even in the intimate nature of consciousness, "said Josephine Cruzat and Morten Kringelbach, co-authors of the article.

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