Wednesday, 12 July 2017

New Tool Offers Snapshots of Neuron Activity


Get to see the neuron activity with a snapshot taking tool

Scientists have always wondered how the human brain works and this has led to various huge budget researches. A number of cognitive processes take place within few seconds or minutes with the help highly efficient and fast paced neuron activity in the brain. It was a dream of the neuroscientists to find some way to capture and study how the neurons works in tandem to successfully perform wide variety of tasks within the shortest amount of time. A team of scientists has just built such tool which is capable of taking snapshots of the neuron activity and this feat is regarded nothing than scientific marvel.

Team behind the development of snapshot tool

A team of researchers from MIT and Stanford University has come up a noble solution to map the activity of the neurons in the brain. They had developed a smart and influential way of labeling the neurons as they turn active which in turn helps in creating a snapshot of the activity in real time. Their approach has been applauded by many as offers new exciting insights into the core functioning of the neurons. It has found to be extremely precise and capable than the currently used cell labeling techniques as it is helps in capturing the activity performed by the neurons over a time, hours or even days.

FLARE is the new age for labelling neuron activity

Researchers developed a technique called FLARE which they demonstrated on the mice to showcase how the neuron activity is mapped by this tool. Herein a red fluorescent protein which is also known as mCherry present in the motor cortex of the mice is turned as they started running on the treadmill. The future prospects of this tool are immense as it can be used for the cell belling in the light-sensitive proteins known as DREADDS. This will in turn allow the neurons to be controlled effectively in the small molecule drugs in future. The best thing about this tool is that its component has the potential to be delivered using the viral vectors which enhances the overall scope of its application.

Understanding the neuron activity using the snapshots by careful labelling is being seen as the first step towards the future where scientists will be able to manipulate multiple set of the neurons. This will allow them to perform specific set of tasks which was impossible for a really long time. An example will help in illustrating this point, using this technology researchers will be able to investigate the way in which brain during quick decision making, they will be able to find the strong emotions associated with it as well as helps I determining the behaviour which will be appropriate for specific situation.

FLARE will be extremely useful in studying as well as treating various diseases in future which even includes the Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists will be able to employ this tool to identify the diseased neuron and treat them specifically so a patient left with the healthy neurons only.

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