Inside our brains are billions of neurons, which communicate to each other via chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are released from one cell and bind to receptors on a neighbor cell, creating a chemical synapse between the two neurons. Precise connections between neurons create microcircuits made up of multiple cells, which are responsible for processing … Continue reading Electrically coupled cells make a connection
There is major interest in trying to “cure” paralysis and help patients overcome mobility limitations, trying everything from repairing damaged spinal cord neurons, to engineering human exoskeletons. One branch of this research focuses on brain machine interfaces (BMI) in which a multi-electrode recording chip is implanted into the brain. This array can “read” what the … Continue reading I think, therefore I grasp
We have all heard about birds being able to sense the Earth’s magnetic field in order to navigate during migration, but how can they do that? There have been a number of studies that implicated iron-rich cells in the upper beak of birds as magnetoreceptors. Just like there are neurons that can sense mechanical stimuli, … Continue reading Magneto…nope!
How does our brain make memories? We know that a brain region called the hippocampus is important for forming new memories. If this region is damaged or inhibited in mice or humans, memory formation is impaired. It has been hypothesized recently that a relatively small population of hippocampal neurons becomes activated during learning and that … Continue reading Creating shocking memories
There’s a new fruit fly article making the rounds this week. The public loves a good fruit-flies-acting-like-us story. The take home message is that male fruit flies that are deprived of sex are more attracted to alcohol (which affects them in a way similar to humans). Fruit flies like sex! Fruit flies like alcohol! Fruit … Continue reading The rewards of sex and alcohol