How Neurons Multitask
Duke University researchers have shown that neurons seem to be capable of carrying more than one signal at a time. They do this, apparently, in much the same way that telecommunications engineers developed rapid switching between pieces of two different messages, something called time-division multiplexing. Most prior studies have looked neurons responding a single signal. In this research, neurons responded to two different sound signals and seemed to alternate very quickly between the two. This may help to explain how our brains process information from the very complex world we inhabit and how we can distinguish two objects or two sounds and still recognize that both exist. The researchers suggested that these findings may help scientists better understand the constraints of mental processing, including working memory.