By a showing of hands: how many of you started this New Year with the resolution to get moving? Burn off those extra holiday calories, or finally really get in shape? Because, let’s be honest, it’s all about willpower right? “Just do it!”
Optogenetics - making neurons sensitive to activation by light - is a great tool in the unraveling of the function of the brain in biological processes and behavior. In a recent study by Rodrigo J. De Marco and his colleagues used optogenetic techniques to uncover the role of the pituitary in zebrafish larvae behavior after the onset of stress.
Most of us are familiar with the typical behavioral characteristics associated with autism: social behavior deficits and repetitive behaviors. However, motor abnormalities are also a part of the autism behavioral spectrum. These have generally been linked to malfunction of the cerebral cortex, but recent studies have also implicated the cerebellum.
Autistic phenotype in mice
Shank2 is a gene that encodes a postsynaptic protein and has been linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In short, inactivation of this gene in mice creates “autistic mice” (Won et al. Nature 2012).
Learning paradigms have long been the hallmark in studies on neurological and psychiatric disorders, but they often present challenges and come with limitations. For example, many of these tasks require some combination of food restrictions, handling of the animals, and/or are quite labor-intensive. Sylics recently introduced a new paradigm, called CognitionWall, that you might have already seen on our website, and aims to get around some of these limitations.
As a research tool manufacturer, we try to listen carefully to the scientific community when we create and refine our software and instruments.
Of course we want to make the best products, and we also want you to actually buy and use them. However, I am not in the research and development department, nor am I a sales person. I just like finding out and writing about research.
So for me this Neuroscience meeting is, like last year, a great way to discover what the neuroscience community is up to.
One of the things I admire about many labs is the desire to want to investigate something, and then the creativity to collect and even create what they need for their study.
When you get used to something, after a while you might not notice it anymore. It’s called habituation. When you are repeatedly presented with the same stimulus you might cease to respond to it altogether.
Topics: Video tracking
We sleep a large portion of our lives. We need to, we know this, and science proves it. Sleep helps us to process what we have learned, to let our nervous system function properly, and to concentrate during the day. We have all been there: a bit of stress or anxiety for a big day coming up leads to not sleeping well, and we suffer the consequences. Loss of concentration, maybe a bit cranky… my mother always told me sleep makes everything better. And now researchers have proven that it can heal the brain. The question is, how?
For a few years now, optogenetics has been the answer to shortcomings of using pharmaceuticals or electrodes in brain research. The temporal and spatial precision of optogenetic methods rapidly produced many new insights into neural networks in the normal and diseased brain. But like any other methodology, optogenetics also has limitations. Although wireless options have been developed, optogenetics means neuronal control by light, and delivering this light to the selected brain cells is still an invasive method (unless you are using larval zebrafish). Additionally, the method can be difficult to scale up, including to more neurons, deeper brain tissues, or larger brains.
About a week ago I was on a plane flying back from Chicago to Amsterdam. I was exhausted, but very pleased with my experiences at my first Neuroscience meeting. I started out taking baby steps on my first day, but soon I was running a marathon (well, sort of). By Tuesday I really started feeling ‘at home’ and finally it even felt a bit sad to break down the booth and put everything back into the big crates for next year’s show.
Wednesday, October 21st – I have been talking to so many interesting people around here. Not just researchers, but other vendors as well, such as our partner company Inscopix. It was great meeting some of the people from the company that made an important contribution to the research presented at our satellite symposium on Monday. I think there is a bright future ahead in combining live brain imaging with video tracking technology and I hope to be reporting about it more in the near future.