Image: Model (left) and high resolution image (right) of the nanoengineered micropipette with holes to distribute electrical current. Credit: Daniel Schwarz
In a feat of nanoengineering, scientists have developed a new technique to map electrical circuits in the brain far more comprehensively than ever before.
In the brain, dedicated groups of neurons that connect up in microcircuits help us process information about things we see, smell and taste. Knowing how many and what type of cells make up these microcircuits would give scientists a deeper understanding of how the brain computes complex information about the world around us. But existing techniques have failed to paint a complete picture.
The new technique, developed by researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, overcomes previous limitations and has enabled them to map out all 250 cells that make up a microcircuit in part of a mouse brain that processes smell – something that has never been achieved before.
The method, published in Nature Communications today, could be used by scientists worldwide to uncover the architecture of different parts of the brain.
“Traditionally, scientists have either used colour-tagged viruses or charged dyes with an applied electric current to stain brain cells, but these approaches either don’t label all cells or they damage the surrounding tissue,” said Andreas Schaefer, Group Leader at the Crick who led the research.
By creating a series of tiny holes near the end of a micropipette using nano-engineering tools, the team found that they could use charged dyes but distribute the electrical current over a wider area, to stain cells without damaging them. And unlike methods that use viral vectors, they could stain up to 100% of the cells in the microcircuit they were investigating. They also managed to work out the proportions of different cell types in this circuit, which may give clues into the function of this part of the brain.
Andreas added: “We’re obviously working at a really small scale, but as the brain is made up of repeating units, we can learn a lot about how the brain works as a computational machine by studying it at this level. Now that we have a tool of mapping these tiny units, we can start to interfere with specific cell types to see how they directly control behaviour and sensory processing.”
Learn more: New method to map miniature brain circuits
The Latest on: Brain mapping
- Brain Mapping Instrument Market Overview, Growth, Demand and Forecast Research Report to 2022 on November 14, 2018 at 4:13 am
Brain Mapping Instrument Report by Material, Application, and Geography Global Forecast to 2022 is a professional and in-depth research report on the world's major regional market conditions ... […]
- Suit claims Bulletproof Coffee company terminated executive after ‘brain mapping’ session on November 9, 2018 at 1:28 pm
A former executive at Bulletproof 360, maker of the brain-boosting Bulletproof Coffee, accused the company of age discrimination in a new lawsuit and of terminating her due to health information she d... […]
- Koios Mapping Human Brain to Study Impact of CBD on November 8, 2018 at 7:01 am
VANCOUVER, Nov. 8, 2018 /CNW/ - Koios Beverage Corp. (CSE: KBEV) (OTC: KBEVF:US) (the "Company" or "Koios"), is pleased to announce the Company will be initiating a clinical study into the impact ... […]
- USC scientists map brain region linked to Alzheimer’s and other diseases on October 8, 2018 at 8:10 am
Brain mapping helps scientists understand how specific areas function and how to create new drugs and targeted treatments. (Photo/Courtesy of Jim Stanis and Tyler Ard, USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroi... […]
- Iran to cooperate in brain mapping with top universities on October 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Tehran, Oct 6, IRNA – Iran has signed an MoU with University of Vienna, Austria, while negotiations on signing MoUs with other research institutes around the world is underway, said the head of Nation... […]
- Mapping of Chinese brain bold journey for science on October 1, 2018 at 10:45 pm
Scientists are mapping Chinese people's brains to get a better understanding of how the influence of the Chinese language affects cognitive performance, as well as to learn more about the mechanisms b... […]
- Brain mapping of motor and functional recovery after supratentorial stroke on September 25, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Objective The present study aimed to identify the brain regions involved in upper and lower limb motor and functional recovery after stroke. Methods Twenty-five patients (mean age 73.4 years; average ... […]
- New tools developed for brain mapping; should boost research into depression, dementia on July 3, 2018 at 8:38 am
Charitha Guruge, a Ph.D. student at Florida Institute of Technology, places a sample of an inactive, or “caged,” version of the neurotransmitter glutamate in a photo reactor. The UV lamps in the react... […]
via Google News and Bing News