Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Virtual reality allows researchers to measure brain activity during behavior at unprecedented resolution

May 10, 2012
Researchers have developed a new technique which allows them to measure brain activity in large populations of nerve cells at the resolution of individual cells. The technique, reported today in the journal Nature, has been developed in zebrafish to represent a simplified model of how brain regions work together to flexibly control behaviour.

Our thoughts and actions are the product of large populations of nerve cells, called neurons, working in harmony, often millions at a time. Measuring brain activity during behaviour at detailed resolution in these groups of cells has proved extremely challenging. Currently, scientists are restricted to measuring their activity in individual brain areas of, for example, moving rats, typically in less than a few hundred neurons.

Dr Misha Ahrens, a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow based at Harvard University and the University of Cambridge, worked with colleagues to develop a technique which allows neuroscientists to study as many as 2,000 neurons simultaneously, anywhere in the brain of a transparent zebrafish. Their work was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health.

Dr Ahrens and colleagues created a virtual environment for zebrafish, which allowed them to measure activity in the neurons as the fish 'moved'. In reality, the zebrafish was paralysed to allow the researchers to image its brain; the fish perceived to 'move' through the virtual environment by activating their motor neuron axons, the cells responsible for generating movement.

Zebrafish are often used as a simple organism to study genetics and characteristics of the nervous system that are conserved in humans . They are genetically modifiable, so by manipulating the fish's genetic make-up, Dr Ahrens and colleagues created a fish in which all neurons contained a particular protein that increases its fluorescence when the cells are active. The fish are transparent and so the team were able to use a laser-scanning microscope, to see activity in any neuron in the brain of the fish, and up to 2,000 neurons simultaneously.

Dr Ahrens explains: "Our behaviour is determined by thousands, possibly millions, of nerve cells working in harmony. The zebrafish performs complex behaviors, with a brain of about 100,000 neurons, almost all of which are accessible to optical recording of neural activity. Our new technique will help us examine how large networks mediate behaviour, while at the same time telling us what each individual cell is doing."

Using the technique, Dr Ahrens and colleagues asked the question: do zebrafish adapt their behaviour in response to changes in their environment? To do this, they manipulated the virtual environment to simulate the fish suddenly becoming more "muscular". This served as a simplified version of what happens when the brain needs to adapt the way it drives behavior, for example, when water temperature changes the efficacy of the muscles, or when the fish gets injured.

Dr Ahrens adds: "The paralyzed fish in the virtual world do indeed adapt their behaviour, by adjusting the amount of impulses the brain sends to the muscles. They also 'remember' this change for a while. Imaging the brain everywhere during this behaviour, we identified certain brain regions that were involved, most notably the cerebellum and related structures. This technique opens the possibility that eventually, the behaviour may be used to gain insights into human motor control and motor control deficits.

"Our own motor control is continuously recalibrating itself in a similar way to the fish's to cope with ever changing conditions of our body and environment, such as when we injure a leg, or if we're walking on a slippery floor or carrying a heavy bag. The zebrafish's behaviour is an ultra-simplified version of this and we have been able to gain some insight into how its brain structures drive behaviour. This might someday help us understand how damage to certain brain regions in humans affects the way in which the brain integrates sensory information to control body movements."

Understanding the brain is one of the Wellcome Trust's five strategic challenges.

Wellcome Trust


Related Brain Activity Current Events and Brain Activity News Articles


Patterns of brain activity reorganize visual perception during eye movements
Scientists measuring brain activity have found that in many regions, such as the sensory or motor cortex, activity sometimes oscillates at different frequencies, forming wave-like patterns.

Study sheds new light on the impact of video gaming on the brain
Video gamers now spend a collective three billion hours per week in front of their screens. In fact, it is estimated that the average young person will have spent some 10,000 hours gaming by the time they are 21.

How does the brain respond to hearing loss?
Researchers at the University of Colorado suggest that the portion of the brain devoted to hearing can become reorganized--reassigned to other functions--even with early-stage hearing loss, and may play a role in cognitive decline.

Livers donated after cardiac death are safe to use in liver cancer patients
Patients with liver cancer can be cured with a liver transplant. But because of the shortage of donated organs, these patients often die waiting for a liver. That's because most transplant centers predominantly use livers from donors who die from brain death.

Imagination beats practice in boosting visual search performance
Practice may not make perfect, but visualization might. New research shows that people who imagined a visual target before having to pick it out of a group of distracting items were faster at finding the target than those who did an actual practice run beforehand.

Do fruit flies have emotions?
A fruit fly starts buzzing around food at a picnic, so you wave your hand over the insect and shoo it away. But when the insect flees the scene, is it doing so because it is actually afraid?

Brains of smokers who quit successfully might be wired for success
Smokers who are able to quit might actually be hard-wired for success, according to a study from Duke Medicine.

UCI study sheds new light on low-light vision, could aid people with retinal deficits
Driving down a dimly lit road at midnight can tax even those with 20/20 vision, but according to a recent UC Irvine study, the brain processes the experience no differently than if it were noon.

How your brain reacts to emotional information is influenced by your genes
Your genes may influence how sensitive you are to emotional information, according to new research by a UBC neuroscientist.

Late-night snacking: It it your brain's fault?
After gobbling the fourth Oreo in a row while bathed in refrigerator light, have you ever thought, "That wasn't enough," and then proceeded to search for something more?
More Brain Activity Current Events and Brain Activity News Articles

Brain Games Kids: Preschool

Brain Games Kids: Preschool
by Editors of Publications International Ltd. (Author), Editors of Brain Games (Editor)


Brain Games for Preschool Kids contains 301 early-learning activities for preschoolers. Colorful illustrations and photography help present the material in a fun and engaging way. Each left-hand page contains one to four questions; each right-hand page supplies answers. The question-and-answer format is complemented by spiral binding that makes it easy to fold the book in half to hide the answers.

The activities address language arts, math, science, social sciences, physical and emotional development, fine arts, and foreign language. Topics include recognizing letters and numbers, phonics, matching, counting, rhyming, colors, and identifying similarities and differences. Categories are scattered throughout the book, and questions progress from easy to hard for a graduated learning...

The Whole-Brain Child Workbook: Practical Exercises, Worksheets and Activities to Nurture Developing Minds

The Whole-Brain Child Workbook: Practical Exercises, Worksheets and Activities to Nurture Developing Minds
by Daniel J. Siegel (Author), Tina Payne Bryson (Author)


Based on their New York Times bestselling book, The Whole-Brain Child, internationally acclaimed neuropsychiatrist Dan Siegel, M.D., and brain-based parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., have created a workbook to help parents understand the science behind their child s developing mind and survive the everyday parenting struggles that accompany each stage of growth.

Drs. Siegel and Bryson declare the workbook free of rules, obligations, or guilt it s simply a tool for parents and caregivers to find more help with support, move towards a deeper understanding of and connection with their children, and gain a fuller understanding of themselves as parents.

*Tools for solving sibling conflict, homework struggles, screen time battles, tantrums, outbursts, sulking and...

Brain Games for Kids #1 (Brain Games Kids)

Brain Games for Kids #1 (Brain Games Kids)
by Editors of Publications International (Editor)


Many educators agree that puzzles and games are among the best ways to engage children in the thinking process. Now the popular Brain Games series is available in a children s edition. Brain Games for Kids #1 is packed with crossword puzzles, word searches, math puzzles, mazes, picture puzzles, and more. Each fun game and puzzle will give your child s brain a boost, improving language skills, logical thinking, and analytical reasoning.

Puzzles are arranged by level of difficulty from 1 to 5, and answers to every puzzle are included at the back of the book. The fun-filled exercises in this book promote these different areas of learning for children:
Analysis
Attention
Computation
Creative thinking
General knowledge
Language
Logic
Planning
...

Brain Games #1: Lower Your Brain Age in Minutes a Day (Brain Games (Numbered))

Brain Games #1: Lower Your Brain Age in Minutes a Day (Brain Games (Numbered))
by Editors of Publications International (Editor)


This is the first book in the popular Brain Games: Lower Your Brain Age in Minutes a Day series, which was developed to help people increase their memory, sharpen their reasoning, and expand their creative thinking. Working the puzzles in this book can provide a vigorous mental workout for virtually everyone from teenagers to senior citizens.

* Check out the Table of Contents
* Work these Sample Puzzles

The book is divided into five sections of puzzles, each progressively more difficult. Self-assessment questionnaires help you gauge your progress, and solutions to all the puzzles are provided in the final section of the book. Like physical exercise, mental exercise needs to be varied for optimal results, and Brain Games #1 challenges you with puzzles of every...

Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole Brain Learning

Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole Brain Learning
by Paul E. Dennison (Author), Gail E. Dennison (Author), Gail E. Dennison (Illustrator)


This small book has been translated into 20-some languages. It offers drawings of the 26 Brain Gym activities with simple descriptions of how to do them, written in a simple story form that children can understand. Parents, teachers, and learners seeking more in-depth descriptions and variations for the 26 activities find these in Brain Gym: Teacher s Edition by the same authors.

Brain Games for Kids (Brain Games Kids)

Brain Games for Kids (Brain Games Kids)
by Editors of Publications International Ltd. (Author), Editors of Publications International (Editor)


Many educators agree that games and puzzles are among the best ways to engage children in the thinking process. Brain Games for Kids #2 is part of the children s book selections in the popular Brain Games series. The book is packed with an entertaining collection of crossword puzzles, word games, math puzzles, mazes, picture puzzles, and more. Each fun game and puzzle will boost your child s brainpower, improving language skills, logical thinking, and analytical reasoning.

Puzzles are grouped by difficulty level from 1 to 5, and answers to every puzzle are included at the back of the book. The fun-filled exercises promote these different areas of learning for children:
Analysis
Attention
Computation
Creative thinking
General knowledge
Language
...

Brain Games Kids Puzzle Crazy

Brain Games Kids Puzzle Crazy
by Editors of Publications International (Editor)


Book Of Brain Games For Kids !!

Brain Games Kids: First Grade

Brain Games Kids: First Grade
by Editors of Publications International Ltd. (Author), Editors (Editor)


Brain Games for First Grade Kids contains 301 learning activities for first graders. Colorful illustrations and photography help present the material in a fun and engaging way. Each left-hand page contains one to four questions; each right-hand page supplies answers. The question-and-answer format is complemented by spiral binding that makes it easy to fold the book in half to hide the answers.

The activities address language arts, math, science, social sciences, physical and emotional development, fine arts, and foreign language. Topics include phonics, grammar, addition and subtraction, rhyming, making predictions, drawing conclusions, telling time, and geography. Categories are scattered throughout the book, and questions progress from easy to hard for a graduated learning...

Brain Games Kids: Kindergarten

Brain Games Kids: Kindergarten
by Editors of Publications International Ltd. (Author), Editors of Publications International Ltd. (Editor)


Brain Games for Kindergarten Kids contains 301 learning activities for kindergartners. Colorful illustrations and photography help present the material in a fun and engaging way. Each left-hand page contains one to four questions; each right-hand page supplies answers. The book s spiral binding allows you to fold the book in half to conceal the answers.

The 301 activities address language arts, math, science, social sciences, physical and emotional development, fine arts, and foreign language. Topics include phonics, counting, colors, shapes, rhyming, solving simple logic problems, identifying similarities and differences, and directional concepts. Categories are scattered throughout the book, and questions progress from easy to hard for a graduated learning experience. Sample...

Brain Stimulation: Methodologies and Interventions

Brain Stimulation: Methodologies and Interventions
by Irving Reti (Author)


Brain stimulation technologies are both tools to probe brain function and to provide therapeutic options for patients with neuropsychiatric disease where pharmacological options are not viable. Although the field has been in existence for over seventy years, research interest in brain stimulation has been on the rise particularly in the last two decades. Brain Stimulation: Methodologies and Interventions is an introduction to the field of brain stimulation technology and its applications. The book explores how brainstimulating technologies work in the context of brain pathways that mediate normal and abnormal brain function. Chapters cover neuroanatomy and activity dependent changes in neuronal function triggered by brain stimulation, as well as applications of brain stimulation...

© 2015 BrightSurf.com