Astrocytes in the CA1 region of the rat hippocampus intracellularly injected with Alexa fluorescent dyes. (Bushong et al., 2001)
Scientists at the University of Bonn have unearthed the root cause for the development of temporal lobe epilepsy! At an early stage, astrocytes are uncoupled from each other, this results in the extracellular accumulation of potassium ions and neurotransmitters, which cause hyper-excitability of the neurons. Astrocytes are connected by gap junction channels composed mainly of the gap junction protein (connexin 43 and connexin 30). In this study, researchers combined patch-clamp recordings with various immunotechniques to decipher of the role of impaired gap junctions channels in the etiology of epilepsy.
Journal Reference: Brain
Astrocytes in the hippocampus, keeping tabs on neuronal conversations. The flashes of light indicate changes in calcium levels within the astrocytes. When neurons show a burst of activity, calcium levels dramatically increase in the astrocyte, lighting up the entire cell.
Image courtesy of Baljit S. Khakh, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles.
Stunning 3D ‘glass brain’ shows neurons firing off in real-time. The structure of the brain is mapped using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The user then wears cap covered with electrodes that measure differences in electric potential to record brain activity. This activity is revealed on-screen. The different colors represent the different frequencies of electrical energy in the brain, as well as the paths by which that energy moves around. The Glass Brain can’t be used to show exactly what the user is thinking, but can paint a broad picture of brain activity.
Shared via: Daily Mail Online
Researchers have given rats the ability to ‘touch’ infrared light, normally invisible to them, by fitting them with an infrared detector wired to microscopic electrodes implanted in the part of the mammalian brain that processes tactile information. The achievement represents the first time a brain-machine interface has augmented a sense in adult animals, said Duke University neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis, who led the research team.
Journal Reference: Nature Communications
MIT neuroscientists identified the cells where memory traces are stored in the mouse hippocampus. In a study published recently, Ramirez et al. reported to establish a population of cells in the dentate gyrus of the mouse hippocampus that encoded a particular context and were able to generate a false memory and study its neural and behavioral interactions with true memories. The researchers optogenetically activated the memory engram bearing cells in the hippocampus and these activated engrams were used to implant false memories in the mice’s brains. It was demonstrated that the optogenetic reactivation of memory engram bearing cells was not only sufficient for the behavioral recall of that memory, but could also serve as a conditioned stimulus for the formation of an associative memory. The MIT team is now planning further studies of how memories can be distorted in the brain.
Journal Reference: Science
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Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.
Click here to see the complete report.
MIT engineers make glucose powered Bioelectronics a reality. They have developed a fuel cell that runs on glucose for powering highly efficient brain implants of the future that can help paralyzed patients move their arms and legs again. The fuel cell strips electrons from glucose molecules to create a small electric current. The researchers, led by Rahul Sarpeshkar, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, fabricated the fuel cell on a silicon chip, allowing it to be integrated with other circuits that would be needed for a brain implant. The glucose fuel cell, when combined with such ultra-low-power electronics, can enable brain implants or other implants to be completely self-powered. Thus making brain glucose as a new energy source for future medical implants.
Journal Reference: PLoS One