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.
References: Neuron, April 16, 2014.
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 colours 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 Link: 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 Link : 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 Link : PLoS One
DNA consists of regions called exons, which code for the synthesis of proteins, interspersed with noncoding regions called introns. Being able to predict the different regions in a new and unannotated genome is one of the biggest challenges facing biologists today. Now researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi have used techniques from information theory to identify DNA introns and exons an order of magnitude faster than previously developed methods. The researchers were able to achieve this breakthrough in speed by looking at how electrical charges are distributed in the DNA nucleotide bases. This distribution, known as the dipole moment, affects the stability, solubility, melting point, and other physio-chemical properties of DNA that have been used in the past to distinguish exons and introns. The research team computed the “superinformation,” or a measure of the randomness of the randomness, for the angles of the dipole moments in a sequence of nucleotides. For both double- and single-strand forms of DNA, the superinformation of the introns was significantly higher than for the exons. Scientists can use information about the coding and noncoding regions of DNA to better understand the human genome, potentially helping to predict how cancer and other diseases linked to DNA develop.
Journal Link : Applied Physics Letters