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The next Science on Google+ Conversation happens in under 24 hours!

The next Science on Google+ Conversation happens in under 24 hours! We’ll hangout with Dr. Joe of  It’s Okay To Be Smart and answer your serious and whacky science questions.  It’s guaranteed to get your neurons firing like the ones you see here in a zebrafish brain. 


What the GIF!

This image from HHMI shows active neurons in a zebra fish brain. Researchers used light sheet microscopy to image through a live brain about once every second. They were able to see single cell resolution. Why does this matter? According to Nature News,

“The resolution offered by the zebrafish study will enable researchers to understand how different regions of the brain work together, says Ahrens. With conventional techniques, imaging even 2,000 neurons at once is difficult, so researchers must pick and choose which to look at, and extrapolate. Now, he says, “you don’t need to guess what is happening — you can see it” (1)

Check out the full story in Nature Publishing Group at or read a layman friendly synopsis from io9 at

GIF via It’s Okay To Be Smart at


#sciencesunday   #hangoutsonair   #scienceeveryday   #IOTBS  


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  1. J. Conrad Muni , we CAN image the human brain. How else would we have knowledge of what parts of the brain are activated during specific functions (i.e. speech, motor skills, and personality) this just adds high resolution.

    Can you say CAT SCAN orrr Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?


  2. Understand Linda, but the resolution of the methods such as CAT scan and MRI are not sufficient for the type of imaging I’m looking for.  What I have in mind is a part of the Hypothalamus that you normally can’t get data on outside of an autopsy.  It would be great if the method depicted above could accomplish that measurement without waiting for the patient to die… could be a powerful diagnostic tool.


  3. But as I was saying, the people at Science on Google+ are officially bored or boring. What about genome mapping of cancer tumors. Like the whole process of identifying a specific cancer’s ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ so we can one day treat, shut off, or render a cancer inert based on the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of a specific cancer.

    CRIBNOTE: Every disease out there has it’s own identity or what’s known as a strain. Cancer’s also have this trait. Every cancer has a strain. We can identify a cancer’s strain by mapping it. If we can map a given cancer we can follow how it operates. If we can follow how a cancer operates we can learn how to shut it off. THIS IS THE THEORY.


  4. linda: zebra fish are what is known as a “model organism”. The way science works is that we have picked a few species: E. Coli, lambda phage, tobacco mosaic virus, aliivibrio fischeri, neurospera , brewers yeast, Arabidopsis thaliana, Oryza sativa, sea slugs, drosophilia, nematode, mice and of course, the zebra fish (there are a couple dozen others).  Rather than look at every living creature on the planet we focus on these select species and study them intensely and use the lessons we learn from them to understand other creatures.

    Zebra fish are incredibly useful. They are one of the primary model organisms for vertebrates like you and me. They grow quickly and you can do several generations in reasonably short period of time. They are used a lot for developmental research because their embryos are transparent so we can look at development in a microscope without having to vivisect the critter. This characteristic is important here because what we are looking at is a kind of microscopy where you shine a thin sheet of light through the brain with a laser and watch it from the top to see what it shows. Can’t do that unless the critters brain is transparent.


  5. Ok, took the time to actually read the article, let me try to explain and expand a few things.

    First the disappoitnment: we are not going to be able to do this to a human brain.

    The zebrafish used in this study has been pretty heavily genetically modified. It has been engineered to express a fluorescent protein calcium indicator (GCaMP). When a neuron fires there is a flood of Ca2+ ions through a channel, when the engineered protein is exposed to the calcium it causes a part of it that contains a fluorescent protein (GFP) to shine for a moment.  They also engineered the fish to be an albino to make it’s eyes more transparent (they’d hide a lot of the flashes otherwise) and it looks like they may have made a couple other modifications. Theoretically most of this could be done to a human (though since our skulls are not transparent it wouldn’t be much use) but are you going to volunteer your next kid for experimental gengineering?

    The big flash of activity is caused by them shining a blue laser in the embryo’s eyes. They specifically picked a color that was different from the fluorescent protein so that they could tune it out.

    The really big deal about this (you don’t get an article in Nature unless it is a big deal) is that what we are seeing is whole brain single neuron resolution. They have developed a technique that allows us to see the activity of the entire brain (well 80%, even making them albino to make the eyes transparent they still shadow ~10% of the neurons) on the scale of individual neurons.  Imagine you were trying to understand a soccer game but until now you had such crappy seats you couldn’t see the individual players.


  6. R. Michael Litchfield Ah, so the flash is indeed mainly visual input. I guess it’s actually placed in some rigid position and is not able to move itself during the experiment. I wonder if actuator activity would be that promiment too.


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