Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blinky lights reveal mouse brain at work

It looks like researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have actually watched a mouse's brain learn something new. Their announcement:
Through a clever experimental design, Carnegie Mellon University neuroscientists have validated decades of experiments to show how learning and memory may be encoded in a living animal. The research, published in the March issue of Neuron, identifies for the first time the specific neural connections that strengthen as an animal's brain responds to new experiences....

The novel tool they used to watch the brain learn was one they created themselves. They used a special "transgenic mouse that couples the green fluorescent protein (GFP) with the gene c-fos, which turns on when nerve cells are activated."

The mouse's brain cells "light up" as it becomes involved in processing sensory input.

qv: Carnegie Mellon Study

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