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Genetically Modified Mouse’s Brain Lights Up As It Thinks

New mouse will allow scientists to see how the brain processes information

Bethesda, Md. (April 1, 2016)—Scientists have developed a genetically modified mouse with brain cells that light up when active. Using microscopes, the researchers could see regions on the outer layer of the brain used for different tasks and track brain activity as the mice processed and reacted to a stimulus. The technique allows researchers to map activity across the outer layer of the brain or zoom in on one region and study the activity of the brain cells there. “Techniques such as this may enable linking features of brain-wide networks to those of cellular ensembles, which will likely be essential to understand the neural basis of perception and action,” the researchers wrote.

The article “Large-scale imaging of cortical dynamics during sensory perception and behavior” is published in the Journal of Neurophysiology. It is highlighted as one of this month’s “best of the best” as part of the American Physiological Society’s APSselect program. Read all of this month’s selected research articles on the APSselect website.

For more details on the study, view the full release from the University of Oregon.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.



Romantic Rejection Stimulates Key Brain Areas

Released July 6, 2010 -- The pain and anguish of rejection by a romantic partner may be the result of activity in parts of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction craving. A new research effort could explain why feelings related to romantic rejection can be hard to control and provide insight into extreme behaviors associated with rejection. Those who are coping with a romantic rejection may be fighting against a strong survival system that appears to be the basis of many addictions. The data help to explain why the beloved is so difficult to give up.

Have Brain Fatigue? A Bout of Exercise May be the Cure

Released September 16, 2011 - Researchers have discovered that regular exercise increases mitochondria in brain cells, a potential cause for exercise’s beneficial mental effects.

Is There a Central Brain Area for Hearing Melodies and Speech Cues?

Released November 28, 2011 - The perceptual feature of sound known as pitch is fundamental to human hearing, allowing us to enjoy the melodies and harmonies of music and recognize the inflection of speech. Previous studies have suggested that a particular hotspot in the brain might be responsible for perceiving pitch. However, auditory neuroscientists are still hotly debating whether this “pitch center” actually exists. A new review article discusses a recent study claiming that this pitch center may not exist after all, or alternatively, may not be located where previous research has suggested.

Working Memory and the Brain

Released February 6, 2012 - Work published in the Journal of Neurophysiology may explain why people can hold visual information in high detail in their working memory. Using functional neuroimaging, investigators found that visual working memory follows a more general pattern of brain activity than visual perception and relies on concerted action of specialized areas in the rear of the brain and control areas in the front of the brain, which were activated regardless of what the participants viewed.

Researchers Block Damage to Fetal Brain Following Maternal Alcohol Consumption

Released August 11, 2008 - In a study on fetal alcohol syndrome, researchers were able to prevent the damage that alcohol causes to cells in a key area of the fetal brain by blocking acid sensitive potassium channels and preventing the acidic environment that alcohol produces. The cerebellum, the portion of the brain that is responsible for balance and muscle coordination, is particularly vulnerable to injury from alcohol during development.