Posts Tagged ‘brain science’

Lessons from the past affect our perception of the present

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-03-2012

In the journal Science this week (online May 3, 2012), UCSF researchers demonstrated that the brain activity is critical for memory formation and recall. Moreover, they showed that the brain patterns through which the rats see rapid replays of past experiences are fundamental to their ability to make decisions. Disturbing those particular brain patterns impaired the animals’ ability to learn rules based on memories of things that had happened in the past.

Seeking to understand how the recall of specific memories in the brain guides our thinking, neuroscientist Loren Frank, associate professor of physiology and a member of the Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience at UCSF, and his colleagues built a system for detecting the underlying patterns of neuronal activity in rats. They fitted the animals with electrodes and built a system that enabled them to detect a specific pattern, called a sharp-wave ripple, in the hippocampus. Whenever they detected a ripple, they would send a small amount of electricity into another set of electrodes that would immediately interrupt the ripple event, in effect turning off all memory replay activity without otherwise affecting the brain.

Checkout a related talk from Dr. Frank below.

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A new technology for studying protein interactions within the brain

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-21-2011

Despite the difficulties associated with measuring in-situ protein-protein interactions in neural networks, Dr. Akira Chiba of the University of Miami recently announced that his team has embarked on a project to develop a protein interaction map within brain cells. Why have these studies been so difficult to perform until now and what does Dr. Chiba have that will make him successful? The answer lies in the small size of neural proteins and the technical limitations associated with even the highest resolution microscope.

Using a a custom- built 3D FLIM (fluorescent lifetime imaging microscopy), Chiba’s team has been able to spatially and temporally quantify fluorescently tagged protein-protein interactions in genetically modified fruit flies.

According to Chiba, “collaborating fluorescent chemistry, laser optics and artificial intelligence, my team is working in the ‘jungle’ of the molecules of life within the living cells. This is a new kind of ecology played out at the scale of nanometers—creating a sense of deja vu 80 years after the birth of modern ecology.”

Thanks to the University of Miami for this story.

Watch the video below, (already set to the appropriate frame…just press play), as Karl Svoboda of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute explains how FLIM works.

The battle for your mind

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 07-21-2011

I read an incredible post today in Discover Magazine on how the U.S Army is engaged in scientific research that will allow soldiers to communicate with one another just by thinking. Sound like science fiction? It may be closer to reality than you think. Checkout The Army’s bold plan to turn soldiers into telepaths.

I also found it fascinating that this research has been going on for years an has officially been banned by the US government. See the video below for details.