Puzzling out how the brain turns electrical pulses into ‘thoughts, actions and emotions’

MIT Brain Rhythms
Image credit: MIT

Neuroscientists have tried for decades to observe the swift electrical signals that are a major component of the brain’s language. Although electrodes, the workhorse for measuring voltage, can reliably record the activity of individual neurons, they struggle to capture the signals of many, particularly for prolonged periods. But in the past two decades, scientists have found a way to embed fluorescent, voltage-indicating proteins right into the cell membranes of neurons.

As these proteins improve, and advances in microscopy make it easier to see them, scientists hope to illuminate neuroscience’s biggest puzzle: how the brain’s cells work together to transform a system of electrical pulses into thoughts, actions and emotions.

In the past year, [Biophysicist Adam] Cohen and his colleagues developed new [genetically encoded voltage indicators] and improved microscopy techniques to record such sub-threshold voltage changes from many neurons at once, including in the mouse brain.

Related article:  Challenging our understanding of the genetics behind the evolution of human language

The ability to know exactly which neurons are being recorded and to keep track of them over time allows researchers to look at the wiring between those neurons, says Ed Boyden, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. By doing so, “you can link the structure of the brain with its function”, he says. “That’s one of the core questions in all neuroscience.”

Read full, original post: A new way to capture the brain’s electrical symphony

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend