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18 March 2019

Waves in the brain

Brain activity is structured into brain rhythms that differ in frequency, with different frequencies reflecting different mental states. But these brain waves, especially the alpha waves at 10Hz, also have functional roles that still need to be clarified.

By recording brain activity on the surface of the scalp and using electroencephalographic and mathematical techniques of inverse correlation, Rufin VanRullen and Diego Lozano-Soldevilla showed that alpha waves were true "perceptual echoes" propagating over several cycles and in a very precise organization. This organization makes it possible to postulate that perceptual echoes behave like "radar screens" that would scan the visual field rhythmically every 100ms, thus making it possible to locate an object in space and time; each position in the surrounding space is scanned at different times and in a well-defined order. These results published in Cell Reports make it possible to propose for the first time a functional role for these brain waves at 10 Hz, which would be a direct reflection of the cortical processing of sensory information. Link for article

6 March 2019


Brain Week 2019 will take place from March 11 to 17, 2019. This edition is placed under the high patronage of Mrs Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. As every year, researchers and doctoral students from the CERCO laboratory (UMR 5549 CNRS/UT3) will meet the general public and schoolchildren to share their knowledge. Thus we will be able to attend the opening conference on "Brain and Music Learning" at the Mazades Theatre on Monday, March 11 at 6 p.m. with several CERCO researchers, Chloé FARRER, Muriel MESCAM and Florence REMY, or to watch a documentary on children’s brains at the ABC at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12.

4 December 2018

A little monkey that helps to better understand the aging of humans

Human life expectancy is gradually increasing while healthy life expectancy tends to stagnate. Aging is accompanied by a multitude of impairments of brain functions such as attention, memory and all the executive functions that guarantee the person’s cognitive autonomy. Among the struggles against degenerative diseases, those against Alzheimer’s disease are becoming a real social challenge, particularly through early detection of its pre-symptomatic manifestations. With this in mind, the development of preclinical animal models on which therapeutic strategies can be developed is becoming a crucial objective of research on ageing. The team led by P. Girard at CerCo

was able to highlight that a small South American monkey, the marmosets (or white tailed marmosets), is an extremely relevant model of non-human primate for studying brain aging. Indeed, this small monkey has the advantage of having a short lifespan of about ten years, thus constituting an accelerated model of human ageing and providing a time scale adapted to laboratory studies. While the marmosets have become a model of choice for the study of perceptual or motor functions, to date no French team has addressed the cognitive abilities of this primate and its alterations over the course of a lifetime and none in the world has determined the key periods of its cognitive decline. The work of Amirouche Sadoun and Pascal Girard has consisted in testing the abilities of monkeys of different ages in several tasks that are affected in humans in the event of pathological cognitive aging. The monkeys, tested without capture or constraint in their social group, were confronted with tests of shape memorization and short-term spatial working memory. The researchers were able to demonstrate very marked deficits in elderly monkeys and, above all, they were able to show, in a manner similar to that observed in humans, the presence of individuals who, although not yet considered to be aging, have abnormal deficits, signs of pathological aging. These results, recently published in a leading journal in the field, highlight the marmoset model in the study of brain aging and open up promising investigative horizons in which all preclinical research tools can be used, from molecular imaging for the development of prognostic markers to therapeutic trials.

26 November 2018


is our sensory perception innate or acquired ? In order to better understand how the neural mechanisms underlying our visual perception, and in particular depth perception, are established from birth, a team of researchers from the Cerco laboratory (Tushar Chauhan, Timothée Masquelier, Alexandre Montlibert and Benoit Cottereau) has used computer models based on artificial neural networks. These models are able to learn without any supervision the recurring properties within the visual scenes from a very simple computational law proposed more than fifty years ago! Within the neural network, the synapses associated with the most frequent visual properties are gradually strengthened while those associated with rarer or non-existent properties are weakened.

The results of this study, to be published in the journal Journal of Neuroscience, showed that when the model is trained with natural stereoscopic images, the neurons of the artificial network automatically become selective to binocular disparity, a property underlying stereoscopic perception. The structure of these neurons is also very similar to that of neurons recorded in living organisms, unlike what has been observed from more complex computer models without biological basis. This original approach also made it possible to show how known and present biases in our environment can influence our treatment but also our perception of the visual scene.

In general, this study provides a better understanding of how our sensory and particularly visual selectivity evolves as a function of post-natal experience. It could help to better understand and potentially prevent certain developmental pathologies such as amblyopia. This has been reported in the "Lettre d’info des institut du CNRS".

29 May 2018

Déjà-rêvé: Prior dreams induced by direct electrical brain stimulation

Epileptic patients sometimes report experiential phenomena related to a previous dream they had during seizures or electrical brain stimulation (EBS). This has been alluded to in the literature as “déjà-rêvé” (“already dreamed”). However, there is no neuroscientific evidence to support its existence and this concept is commonly mixed up with déjà-vu. We hypothesized that déjà-rêvé would be a specific entity, i.e., different from other experiential phenomena reported in epileptic patients, induced by EBS of specific brain areas..

This study demonstrates that deja-reve is a heterogeneous entity that is different from dejavu, the historical “dreamy state” definition and other experiential phenomena. This may be relevant for clinical practice as it points to temporal lobe dysfunction and could be valuable for studying the neural substrates of dreams.

To be noted

Brain Week 2019

Brain Week 2019 will take place from March 11 to 17 Program.

Conférences et séminaires

Conférence CerCo
Benoit Bardy / Reinoud Bootsma / Jenny Coull / Laurent Perrinet
Euromov, Montpellier / ISM, Marseille / LNC, Marseille / INT, Marseille
lundi 25 mars 2019 14h
, Hôpital Purpan
Conférence Pré-HDR

Conférence CerCo
Jennifer Coull
LNC - Aix-Marseille Université
lundi 25 mars 2019 14h
Salle 4, Hôpital Purpan
Predicting time in the human brain

Conférence CerCo
Benoit Bardy
EuroMov, Univ. Montpellier
lundi 25 mars 2019 14h
Salle 4, Hôpital Purpan
What your moves say about you:
Action-perception dynamics, human synchronization and mental health

Conférence CerCo
Laurent Perrinet
Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone
lundi 25 mars 2019 14h
Salle 4, Hôpital Purpan
From the retina to action:
Predictive processing in the visual system

Conférence CerCo
Reinoud Bootsma
Institut des Sciences du Mouvement UMR 7287
lundi 25 mars 2019 14h
Salle 4, Hôpital Purpan
Information d'ordre fractionnaire dans le contrôle du mouvement ?

Conférence CerCo
Robin Baurès
mardi 26 mars 2019 9h30
, Hôpital Purpan
Soutenance d'HDR

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