We're a little crazy, about science!

Posts tagged “Optogenetics

Fear, PTSD, and newly found neural circuits in the brain

anxiety disorder

People with anxiety disorders, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often experience prolonged and exaggerated fearfulness. Now, an animal study suggests that this might involve disruption of a gradual shifting of brain circuitry for retrieving fear memories. Researchers have discovered in rats that an old fear memory is recalled by a separate brain pathway from the one originally used to recall it when it was fresh.


Noninvasive Brain Control via Jaws!



Mind control, we’ve seen several semi [see very] invasive ways to make it happen here from the Labs. Now those crazy scientists from MIT  have developed a technique that allows researchers to enable neurons to be silenced noninvasively, using a light source outside the skull. All using a protein known as Jaws.

Optogenetics [a technology that allows scientists to control brain activity by shining light on neurons] uses light-sensitive proteins that can suppress or stimulate electrical signals within cells. This technique is very invasive though because it requires a light source to be implanted in the brain, where it can reach the cells to be controlled.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?

eternal sunshine

A frame from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. What if it was more than just a movie…

Much like this posts namesake, the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind asked what if you could erase memories? Want to forget your ex, no problem. Better yet, what PTSD? I’m sure that all of us can think of at least one or two things — be it embarrassing, or scary — that we would like to forget.

Or conversely, maybe there is something forgotten, something you would give anything to remember — like a loved one or a relative — locked away deep in your brain. Thanks to new advancements in neuroscience, it’s technology that is not just in the movies anymore.


A New Way to Read the Brain [in 3D!!]


What if you were trying to learn language, but you could only see one letter at a time. Nothing before that letter, nothing after that letter, just a single letter. You can imagine how frustrating something like that might be, that is exactly what scientists have been dealing with when it comes to the brain. But a new innovation is changing that and with it, opening a whole new realm of possibilities.


Scientists cure Muscle Paralysis in Mice

Photo credit: John Carnett/Popular Science - Optogenetics, tested in rodents, can control electrical activity in a few carefully selected neurons.

Photo credit: John Carnett/Popular Science – Optogenetics, tested in rodents, can control electrical activity in a few carefully selected neurons.

Searching for a new way to cure paralysis, a team of scientist has come up with a remarkable and off the wall idea. This discovery comes out of the labs at the University College London. The team, lead by Linda Greensmith, used stem cells and optogenetics to control leg muscles in mice and completely circumvent the nervous system in the process.

For those of you who are not familiar with Optogenetics [and really, why would you be familiar with it?] here is a overly simple rundown of what we are talking about.