Nav: Home

Stimulating life-like perceptual experiences in brains of mice

July 18, 2019

Using a new and improved optogenetic technique, researchers report the ability to control - and even create - novel visual experiences in the brains of living mice, even in the absence of natural sensory input, according to a new study. The results not only broaden our understanding of how the perceptions of the outside world are initiated and manifested in living mammalian brains but could also aid in the development of neurotherapeutics for those who suffer neuropsychiatric symptoms like hallucinations or delusions. Perceptual experiences of the surrounding environment likely stem from sensory-driven neuronal activity patterns in the mammalian neocortex. However, the relationships between this activity and its influence on perception and behavior remain unclear. While there has been significant scientific interest in the ability to study and perhaps influence perception and behavior through optogenetics, technological limitations have made progress towards these goals difficult, according to the authors. To overcome these challenges, James Marshel and colleagues developed a new optogenetic technique capable of individual-cell observation and control of hundreds of neurons across a mouse neocortex. Through genome mining of more than 600 microbial genomes, Marshel et al. identified a new channelrhodopsin (ChRmine) with exceptional optogenetic properties. Combined with an improved holographic photostimulation technique, this allowed the researchers to deeply probe - and even elicit - activity within the visual cortex of living mice. According to the results, optogenetic stimulation of specific neuron ensembles previously activated by natural perception of visual stimuli recreated the original activity, suggesting the ability to successfully elicit perception and guide behavior in mice. What's more, the new optogenetic method's ability to examine activity spanning large cortex volumes revealed new insights into the dynamics of neuronal activity between cortical layers and the neurobiology that underpins mammalian behavior.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Behavior Articles:

Is Instagram behavior motivated by a desire to belong?
Does a desire to belong and perceived social support drive a person's frequency of Instagram use?
A 3D view of climatic behavior at the third pole
Research across several areas of the 'Third Pole' -- the high-mountain region centered on the Tibetan Plateau -- shows a seasonal cycle in how near-surface temperature changes with elevation.
Witnessing uncivil behavior
When people witness poor customer service, a manager's intervention can help reduce hostility toward the company or brand, according to WSU research.
Whole-brain imaging of mice during behavior
In a study published in Neuron, Emilie Macé from Botond Roska's group and collaborators demonstrate how functional ultrasound imaging can yield high-resolution, brain-wide activity maps of mice for specific behaviors.
Swarmlike collective behavior in bicycling
Nature is full of examples of large-scale collective behavior; humans also exhibit this behavior, most notably in pelotons, the mass of riders in bicycle races.
My counterpart determines my behavior
Whether individuals grow up in a working-class environment or in an academic household, they take on behaviors that are typical for their class -- so goes the hypothesis.
A gene required for addictive behavior
Cocaine can have a devastating effect on people. It directly stimulates the brain's reward center, and, more importantly, induces long-term changes to the reward circuitry that are responsible for addictive behaviors.
Supercomputing the emergence of material behavior
Chemists at the University of California, San Diego designed the first artificial protein assembly (C98RhuA) whose conformational dynamics can be chemically and mechanically toggled.
The neural circuitry of parental behavior
HHMI scientists have deconstructed the brain circuits that control parenting behavior in mice, and identified discrete sets of cells that control actions, motivations, and hormonal changes involved in nurturing young animals.
Parenting behavior in adoptive families
A new longitudinal study of adoptive families looked at whether symptoms of depression in adoptive fathers is also related to over-reactive parenting and behavior problems in children; the study also examined how social support networks affect parenting.
More Behavior News and Behavior Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.