The range of tools used to study the brain is vast. Neuroscientists toss together ideas from genetics, biochemistry, immunology, physics, computer science, medicine and countless other fields when choosing their techniques. We work on animals ranging from barely-visible worms and the common fruit fly to complicated creatures like mice, monkeys, and men. We record from […]... Read more »
Marder, E. (2011) Colloquium Paper: Variability, compensation, and modulation in neurons and circuits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(Supplement_3), 15542-15548. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1010674108
Pursuing rewards is a crucial part of survival for any species. The circuitry that tells us to seek out pleasure is what ensures that we find food, drink, and mates. In order to engage in this behavior, we must learn associations between rewards and the stimuli that predict them. That way we can know that [...]... Read more »
Bromberg-Martin, E., & Hikosaka, O. (2009) Midbrain Dopamine Neurons Signal Preference for Advance Information about Upcoming Rewards. Neuron, 63(1), 119-126. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.06.009
Since the vague reference to it in the State of the Union and the subsequent report by the New York Times, the neuro-sphere has been abuzz with debate recently over the proposed Brain Activity Map (BAM) project put forth by the Obama administration. While the details have not been formally announced yet, it is generally [...]... Read more »
A. Paul Alivisatos, Miyoung Chun, George M. Church, Ralph J. Greenspan, Michael L. Roukes, Rafael Yuste. (2012) The Brain Activity Map Project and the Challenge of Functional Connectomics. Neuron. info:/
Recently, I was charged with giving a presentation to a group of high schoolers preparing for the Brain Bee on the topic of computational approaches to neuroscience. Of course, in order to reach my goal of informing and exciting these kids about the subject, I had to start with the very basic questions of ‘what’ [...]... Read more »
Kaplan, D. (2011) Explanation and description in computational neuroscience. Synthese, 183(3), 339-373. DOI: 10.1007/s11229-011-9970-0
All research methodologies have their challenges. Molecular markers are finicky. Designing human studies is fraught with red tape. And getting neural cultures to grow can seem to require as much luck as skill. But for those of us involved in animal-based research, there is an extra dimension of difficulty: the ethical one. No matter how [...]... Read more »
Neuroanatomy can happen at many scales. At the highest end, we can ask if certain areas of the brain have connections between them: for example, does the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) send projections to primary visual cortex? (hint: yes). Through electrical stimulation and tract-tracing methods, we’ve gotten pretty good at finding this out. We can [...]... Read more »
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