Monday, 3 July 2017

Peering Into Fish Brains to See How They Work

Fish

Transparent Fish – Work in the Dark


The main focus in the research of the latest group at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience is transparent fish and the capability to work in the dark. One of the important challenges faced by neuroscientists wanting to comprehend how the brain works is essentially reckoning out how the brain is wired together and how neurons tend to interact.

NTNU neuroscientists and Nobel laureates May-Britt and Edvard Moser resolved this issue by studying how to record from individual neurons in the rat brain when the rats tend to move freely in space. They utilised the recording in order to make the findings that had attained them the Nobel Prize.

They were in a position to understand that certain neurons in the entorhinal cortex fired in a manner that created a grid pattern which could be utilised in navigating like an internal GPS. Emre Yaksi, the latest teamhead of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience utilised a diverse approach to the issue of viewing what tends to go on within the brain.

Rather than studying rats or mice, Yakshi resorted to around 90 various types of genetically modified zebra-fish which he could breed in creating various fish with preferredphysiognomies.

Comprehending Universal Circuit Architectures in Brain


Young larval zebra-fish are said to be totally transparent and hence Yakshi needed only a systematic optical microscope to view what tends to occur inside their heads. Some of the fishes of Yakshi seem to have a genetic modification which makes their neurons light up while they direct signal to another neuron and he has informed that this is what tends to make circuits and connections visible to researchers.

He commented that they are interested in comprehending the universal circuit architectures in the brain which can perform interesting computation. Though fish are quite different from humans, their brains tend to have identical structures and in the end fish also have to find food, they also have to find a mate, they have to avoid dangers and they build brain circuits which can generate all these behaviours just the way humans tend to do.

When Yaksi had come to Kavli Institute in early 2015 together with a team of researchers they had a 900 kg anti-vibration table which was the size of a billiards table. The table had been big and heavy and was needed in the laboratory to reduce vibration when they had to use the highly sensitive optical microscopes to peer into the brains of the zebra-fish.

Zebra-Fish Genetically Adapted


The larval fish tend to be quite small that a slight vibration from cars or trucks passing by the streets could make the microscopes bounce away from their miniature brain targets. Zebra-fish brains are quite small, around 10,000 to 20,000 neurons which is a figure dwarfed by the human brain that tends to have an estimated neurons of 80 billion.

However the measurement that Yaksi together with his colleagues tend to make marks in huge quantities of data. According to him, a 30 minute of recording could generate data which tends to take about a week to process the same. It was for this purpose, the research group of Yaksiis a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, physicists and life scientists who seemed to be trained to develop and utilise computational tools in analysing these huge datasets.

Since few of the zebra-fish tend to be genetically adapted in order that their neurons light up with a fluorescent protein when the neurons are active, Yaksi and his colleagues tend to work frequently in low light or darkness. This is particularly obvious when he takes visitors in the subdued darkness of the laboratory where several of the fanciest microscopes are confined in boxes open towards the front, developed to restrict the amount of external light.

Research – Causes of Seizures/How Seizures Prevented


Yaksi had informed that other zebra-fish are genetically modified to shine a blue light in their brain which tends to activate certain neurons enabling the researchers to plan connections between neuron. Major part of the study being done by the group of Yaksiis basic research with findings which tend to improve our understanding of the brain computation though does not specifically have any instant clinical implications.

However, Nathalie Jurisch-Yaksi, wife and colleague of Yaksi is working with medical doctors in order to develop genetically modified zebra-fish which could be helpful in shedding light on brain disease like epilepsy.According to Yaksi, most of the people in his lab are doing basis research attempting to ask how does the brain works, how is it connected, how is it built.

 Nonetheless, Nathalie is working at NTNU with medical doctors and they are trying to reach out to clinicians. For instance he stated that if a brain disorder like epilepsy tends to have a genetic component, that same genetic mutation could be developed in the transgenic group of zebra-fish facility in order that the team could research on the causes of seizures in a diseased brain and how the seizures can be prevented.

Kavli Institute – Excellent Science Environment


The Kavli Institute had been on an institute-wider retreat, when he had come to Trondheim for interview for the position, so Yaksi had the opportunity of meeting not just group leaders but also technicians, master’s students, PhD candidates and everyone. He informed that what was most impressive besides the excellent science environment was that people had been happy and satisfied with what was being done and it was a good atmosphere.

 Though the science had been the most serious part of his decision to move to Trondheim, he informed that he was excited to be a part of the Kavli Institute since he and his wife desired to live in a smaller town as well as close to nature.

He had stated that Trondheim seems to be a unique place and one can do really good science and yet be close to nature, which was a big thing for him and his wife. Going to London or another big city was never an option and they did not desire to deal with big city life. He also informed that when May-Britt Moser had asked him at the time of his interview on what he knew regarding Scandinavia. His reply had been that he did not know much though he had added that he and his wife loved being outdoors.

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