2013.12.17 Press Release

Fluctuations within the brain as signs for “aha!” experience : Elucidation on the cognitive process of insight as a phase transition in the prefrontal neural circuits in problem solving

A research group headed by Assistant Professor Kazuhiro Sakamoto of the Real-World Computing group, Laboratory for Brainware Systems, Research Institute of Electrical Communication at Tohoku University and Professor Hajime Mushiake of the Department of Physiology, Graduate School of Medicine at Tohoku University has discovered that increased neural fluctuations occur in the prefrontal cortex of the brain in animals as a signal right before a solution is devised when given problem solving tasks. For the first time in the world, these fluctuations were identified as critical fluctuations before phase transitions that are recognized by various complex neural systems.

If technology to capture the early warning changes in state of the human brain associated in decision making process is further developed, this research can contribute to making a quantitative diagnosis of mental disorders or creating an innovative brain-computer interface that can react swiftly to the user’s thoughts.

The research result has been published in the American open access scientific journal PloS ONE on Wednesday December 4 1700 EST (December 5 0700 JST). The publication is an open access article.

The research was conducted under the support from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Scientific Research on Innovative Areas, Create Revolutionary Technological Seeds for Science and Technology Innovation (CREST), Cabinet Office Funding Program for World-Leading Innovative R&D on Science and Technology (FIRST), and Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences of Tohoku University.

(About the research)
Assistant Professor Kazuhiro Sakamoto
Professor Hajime Mushiake
Department of Physiology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine
TEL: +81-22-717-8073
E-mail: sakamoto* (Replace * with @)
hmushiak* (Replace * with @)

(Public Relations)
Lecturer Hitoshi Inada
Public Relations Office of Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine
TEL: +81-22-717-7891
FAX: +81-22-717-8187
E-mail: hinada* (Replace * with @)