by Tanya Thomas on  October 5, 2009 at 5:23 PM Research News
 Brain Waves Influence Human Movement
It is possible, recent research proves, to make people move in slow motion by boosting one type of brain wave.

The new finding can pave way for treating conditions like chorea, dystonia and Parkinson's, characterized by either uncontrolled or slowed movements.

"At last we have some direct experimental proof that brain waves influence behavior in humans, in this case how fast a movement is performed," said Peter Brown of University College London.

"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 expert added.

In the new study, researchers injected a small electrical current into the brain through the scalps of fourteen people while the participants manipulated the position of a spot on a computer screen as quickly as they could with a joystick.

They used electrical current to increase normal beta activity, a wave that earlier studies linked to sustained muscle activities, such as holding a book. Beta activity drops before people make a move.

Unlike other studies, the researchers employed an oscillating current, more like that underlying normal brain activity.

As a result, people's fastest times on the computer task were 10 percent slower.

Brown said the researchers were surprised that the electrical currents used in the study-which were very small and imperceptible to the participants-could have such a measurable effect.

The current findings provide the first interventional evidence of a causal link between increased beta synchrony and the slowing of voluntary movement in otherwise healthy individuals, the researchers report, noting that earlier studies have shown altered brain waves to influence memory.

"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," Brown said.

"Conversely, we can try and suppress beta activity in conditions like Parkinson's disease typified by slow movement," he added.

The study appears in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.

Source: ANI

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