Researchers at University College London (UCL), London, UK, published new brain wave research findings online October,1 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. The scientists were astounded to discover the powerful influence that brain waves exert on voluntary human motor functions. The EurekAlert report quoted Peter Brown of the Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders in the Institute of Neurology, UCL, as saying, ‘At last we have some direct experimental proof that brain waves influence behavior in humans, in this case how fast a movement is performed,’ ‘¦ ‘The implication is that it is not just how active brain cells are that is important, but also how they couple their activity into patterns like beta activity.’
The team of scientists at UCL used an injection of a tiny electrical current through the scalps and into the brains of 14 study participants while the subjects moved a spot around a computer screen. The subjects were instructed to move the spot around the screen with a joystick as fast as they could.
The specific current employed by the scientists increased the normal beta brainwave activity in the subjects’ brains. Beta brainwaves have been linked in previous studies to prolonged muscle activities, such as holding up a book, the article reported.
The new study differed from similar studies in the past in that the scientists used an oscillating current similar to the currents in operation in normal brain activity. In earlier studies, constant brain stimulation current has been employed. Although the participants were unable to sense the tiny electrical current, the effects is produced were profound. The participants’ fastest times recorded on the computer and joystick task were 10% slower when the electrical current was administered.
Earlier studies have also shown that altered brain waves have an effect on memory, but not until this groundbreaking study has it been demonstrated conclusively that a causal link between and increase in beta waves and the slowing of voluntary movement in all study participants. The researchers hope their findings will lead to possible treatments for conditions that involve slowed or uncontrolled movements., perhaps even those caused bytraumatic brain injuries.
Brown was further quoted in the article as saying, ‘If we know what patterns of brain activity slow voluntary movement, then we can try and boost these patterns in conditions like chorea and dystonia, where there is excessive and uncontrolled movement,’ ‘¦ ‘Conversely, we can try and suppress beta activity in conditions like Parkinson’s disease typified by slow movement.’
(pic from zatma.org)