Scientists open new window into the brain

An unexpected discovery has led scientists to open an intriguing new window into the human brain, via the visual system.

Their finding may have implications for better understanding of states such as sleep, epilepsy and anaesthesia. It could also open up a new pathway for manipulating brain rhythms to manage disorders such as insomnia and epilepsy.

The discovery came as the researchers were activating the three cell layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), which is the part where the optic nerve actually connects to the brain.

Two of these layers are linked with our ability to perceive edges and movement. The third, koniocellular or “K” layer, is much more primitive – part of our deep evolutionary ancestry – and its function is still mysterious.

When the researchers stopped applying a stimulus, two of the three layers ceased to respond while the K layer continued to pulse, slowly and rhythmically - like a sleeping brain.

Read more at University of Sydney