LOOOOL #PORNGIF #BWS #BWSGIF
Mapping a Living Brain, Neuron by Neuron
A brain, along with all of the thoughts, decisions and consciousness that it brings with it, is nothing more than the sum of its parts. But it is precisely the sum of those parts that makes a brain more than just a pile of neurons and gray goo. Mapping the complex networks of the brain in space and time will be the key to figuring out how it works.
Thanks to some breakthrough work in a fish, we may be getting closer. HHMI scientists have mapped the activity of a zebrafish brain down to the individual neuron in real time! A zebrafish brain contains 100,000 times fewer neurons than our own, but techniques like this will make the Obama administration’s ambitious (and slightly controversial) human Brain Activity Map Project possible. Of course, mapping the activity of a brain isn’t the same as knowing what that activity means, but it’s hard to navigate anything without a detailed map. And when it comes to the brain, a static map is pretty useless. Seeing how signals change over time at a single-cell level is what it will take to turn flashing cells into an idea of what makes the brain tick.
This isn’t our first glance at what “fish thoughts” look like, but it’s definitely the most complete, and the most completely awesome. Check out more great coverage, plus complete videos of the blinking brain, at io9.
I really want to know what this zebrafish was thinking about that made its whole brain light up. Maybe “Oh man, I’m gonna be so famous on the internet after this!!”