Tuesday , August 16 2022

Neuromarketing: The brain uses two inner clocks to predict the future



British and Ivry studied strengths and preventive deficits by people with Parkinson's disease (a type of movement disorder) and people with cerebellar degeneration, a disease in which the cerebellum neurons (brain area controlling muscle coordination and balance) deteriorate and die.

Through different tests, they compared how patients of both diseases behaved in computer exercises using time signals. Both groups looked at a computer screen sequence of red, white and green squares when they passed at different speeds: they had to press a button when they saw the green square. Just like the yellow light of the traffic light, the white squares warn that the green square will happen.

The researchers observed that while the rhythm of passage of the different boxes was constant, patients with cerebellar degeneration responded well to these rhythmic signals. However, when the colored boxes followed a more complex pattern, with different intervals between the red and green squares, this sequence was easier for Parkinson's patients to follow.

New treatments

"We showed that patients with cerebellar degeneration have problems with non-rhythmic temporal signals, while patients with basal ganglia degeneration associated with Parkinson's disease have problems using rhythmic signals," says Ivry.

The study enabled researchers to establish a link between rhythmic synchronization and basal ganglia, as well as between interval synchronization, an internal timer based on our memory of past experiences and cerebellum. Both are primary brain regions associated with motion and cognition.

In addition, their results suggest that if one of these neural clocks fails, the other can theoretically intervene. "Our study not only identifies the foreseeable context that these neurological patients suffer but also the contexts where they have no difficulties, suggesting that we can change their environments to facilitate interaction with the world," adds British.

From these results, new pathways for non-pharmaceutical treatments are opened by people with neurological deficits: computer games, mobile applications, deep brain stimulation and environmentally friendly sleep changes can help them overcome these deficiencies.

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