American Association for the Advancement of Science Honors UCLA's Dr. Itzhak Fried for Studies of Single-Cell Activity in the Brain
Date: November 8, 2001 Contact: Dan Page ( email@example.com ) Phone: 310-794-2265
UCLA neurosurgeon and neuroscientist Dr. Itzhak Fried, an international leader in the study of brain activity and the treatment of epilepsy, has been named a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his contributions to understanding the physiology of human cognition.
The association will recognize Fried at its February 2002 meeting. At UCLA, he is an associate professor of neurosurgery and psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, director of epilepsy surgery in the Division of Neurosurgery, and co-director of the Seizure Disorder Center.
His unique studies of single-cell activity in the brain gather data using depth probes that record seizure onset and spread in epilepsy patients undergoing evaluation for brain surgery to control their seizures. Tiny electrodes record the activity of neurons while patients perform memory tasks.
Among important findings from Fried's work:
Individual nerve cells in the human temporal lobe have very specific responses to visual stimuli. Some neurons may respond only to a particular category of stimulus, such as faces or animals or outdoor scenes. Other neurons may respond only to a particular feature of a face, such as gender or expression. For example, a neuron in the amygdala, an area of the brain implicated in emotions, may respond to faces of angry women but not to male faces, or to women with other expressions.
The same nerve cells that become active when we see an image are reactivated when we close our eyes and see the image "in our mind's eye," that is when we imagine it or remember it.
The activity in the human temporal lobe reflects not what falls on our retina but what we perceive.
The activity of nerve cells during the time we see a face or a word may predict how well we will later on be able to remember it.
Fried's clinical work is devoted to treating epilepsy patients whose seizures cannot be controlled by medications. Surgical treatment results in complete or partial control of the seizures, depending on the type of epilepsy. Among UCLA patients with temporal lobe epilepsy, 80 percent to 85 percent become seizure-free following surgery.