Individual brain cells can ID both cars and cats


The study suggests that cognitive demands—how much brainpower is needed for a particular task—may determine whether neurons in the prefrontal cortex “multitask” or stick to specialized categories.

“This ability to ‘multitask’ allows the brain to re-utilize the same pool of neurons for different tasks. Without it, storage capacity for critical thought might be severely limited,” Miller said. The work could lead to a better understanding of disorders such as autism and schizophrenia in which individuals become overwhelmed by individual stimuli. For instance, a person with autism, when asked to picture a dog, may be flooded with dozens of mental images of all the canines he had ever seen.

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