Image of the Week: Illuminated mouse neuron

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Wellcome Trust Blog

Image of week 2 09.01.2015

This stunning image shows a mouse neuron, illuminated by a beam of light. The image comes from Dr Michael Hausser’s lab at UCL, which investigates neural computation and circuitry at the level of the cell in mammalian brains.

This image illustrates a new “all-optical” method described in a paper published recently in Nature Methods, and comes from a Wellcome Trust supported project. This method brings together two pioneering technologies for detecting and directing electrical activity in the brain. Firstly, neuroscientists genetically encode nerve cells to light up when they are active. Secondly, light-sensitive proteins in the same nerve cells are expressed, allowing nerve cells to be activated with flashes of light. When combined, these two techniques allow the team to both observe and control brain activity in mice.

Dr Hausser said, “We are very excited about this approach as it harnesses the power of light to crack the neural code and to…

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