"Multitasking is no problem for these brain cells" Scientists find that neurons in the brain’s planning center can handle more than one kind of job.
In humans and other primates, the prefrontal cortex is the seat of high-level functions such as learning, decision making, and planning. Neuroscientists have long wondered whether neurons in that part of the brain are specialized for one type of task or if they are “generalists” — that is, able to participate in many functions. A new study from MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory comes down in favor of the generalist theory.
MIT professor Earl Miller and others in his lab showed that when they trained monkeys to perform two different categorization tasks, about half of the neurons involved could switch between the two. The findings, reported in the June 10 issue of the journal Neuron, suggest that neurons of the prefrontal cortex have a much greater