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Scientists created new technology to map brain wiring

Scientists created new technology to map brain wiring

Scientists have created a new technique to map the network of connections within the brain, an advance that help scientists understand how the organ works.

Human Brain:

The human brain is composed of billions of neurons wired together in intricate webs and communicating through electrical pulses and chemical signals.

Although neuroscientists have made progress in understanding the brain's many functions - such as regulating sleep, storing memories, and making decisions - visualising the entire "wiring diagram" of neural connections throughout a brain is not possible using currently available methods. Researchers have developed a method to easily see neural connections and the flow of communications in real time within living flies.

TRACT:

Researchers developed a method for tracing the flow of information across synapses, called TRACT (Transneuronal Control of Transcription). Using genetically engineered Drosophila fruit flies, TRACT allows researchers to observe which neurons are "talking" and which neurons are "listening" by prompting the connected neurons to produce glowing proteins.

With TRACT, when a neuron "talks" - or transmits a chemical or electrical signal across a synapse - it will also produce and send along a fluorescent protein that lights up both the talking neuron and its synapses with a particular colour.

Any neurons "listening" to the signal receive this protein, which binds to a so-called receptor molecule - genetically built-in by the researchers - on the receiving neuron's surface. The binding of the signal protein activates the receptor and triggers the neuron it is attached to in order to produce its own, differently coloured fluorescent protein. In this way, communication between neurons becomes visible.

Using a type of microscope that can peer through a thin window installed on the fly's head, the researchers can observe the colourful glow of neural connections in real time as the fly grows, moves, and experiences changes in its environment.

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