How does our brain influence our behaviour?

Sydney: In ray of hope for treating brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, scientists here have made a major discovery about the way brains influence behaviour. Throwing new light on neurons involved in behaviour, learning and dysfunction, the team from University of New South Wales Sydney discovered two types of neuronal circuit in the brain.

The findings could one day have key implications for the way we treat brain related diseases such as Parkinson’s or deal with conditions like Tourette’s syndrome. In a paper published looked into the relationship between two main types of neuron found in the striatum — a major area of the brain responsible for voluntary movement in animals and humans. They set up experiments to observe mice while they learned new actions that led to a reward of food, then examined the activity of these neurons in large areas of the striatum.

They looked specifically at the activity of the two classes of neuron in this area — those expressing D1 or D2 types of dopamine receptors. While studying how these two types of neuron became active during learning, the team began to find an unexpectedly high degree of interaction between them which happened locally, within the striatum itself.