Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,)
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Worms regrow their decapitated heads, along with the memories inside

Worms regrow their decapitated heads, along with the memories inside | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

Some memories just won't die — and some can even be transferred to a whole new brain. Researchers at Tufts University have determined that a small, yellow worm known as a planarian, which has long been studied for its regenerative properties, is able to grow back a lot more than just its body parts: after the worm's small, snake-like head and neck are removed, its body will even regrow a brain that's capable of quickly relearning its lost skills.

 

The researchers tested the memory of planarians by measuring how long it took for them to reach food in a controlled setting. The small worms dislike open spaces and bright lights — but they had been trained to ignore it so that they could find their meals. Even after decapitation, worms that had gone through training were able to overcome their fears and start eating much faster than worms that hadn't been trained. However, the memories didn't come back immediately. Each worm still had to be reminded of its earlier knowledge, though it only took a single lesson for it to all come back.

 

Why this happens is still unclear. Planarians' brains control their behavior, but the researchers suggest that some of their memories might be stored elsewhere in their body. Alternatively, they suggest that the worms' original brain may have modified their nervous systems, and their nervous systems may have then altered how the new brains formed during regrowth.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Vloasis's curator insight, July 10, 2013 9:22 PM

This university study was done just up the street from me.  Jeez...worms regrowing heads and brains and memories right in my own neighborhood.  But can they remember what they did when they were drunk?

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Whole brain cellular-level activity mapping in a second

Whole brain cellular-level activity mapping in a second | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

It is now possible to map the activity of nearly all the neurons in a vertebrate brain at cellular resolution. What does this mean for neuroscience research and projects like the Brain Activity Map proposal?

 

In a recent publication, Misha Ahrens and Philipp Keller from the HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus used high-speed light sheet microscopy to image the activity of 80% of the neurons in the brain of a fish larva at speeds of a whole brain every 1.3 seconds. This represents—to our knowledge—the first technology that achieves whole brain imaging of a vertebrate brain at cellular resolution with speeds that approximate neural activity patterns and behavior.

 

In an Article that just went live in Nature Methods, Misha Ahrens and Philipp Keller from HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus used high-speed light sheet microscopy to image the activity of 80% of the neurons in the brain of a fish larva at speeds of a whole brain every 1.3 seconds. This represents—to our knowledge—the first technology that achieves whole brain imaging of a vertebrate brain at cellular resolution with speeds that approximate neural activity patterns and behavior.

 

Interestingly, the paper comes out at a time when much is being discussed and written about mapping brain activity at the cellular level. This is one of the main proposals of the Brain Activity Map—a project that is being discussed at the White House and could be NIH’s next ‘big science’ project for the next 10-15 years. [Just for clarity, the authors of this work are not formally associated with the BAM proposal].

 

The details of BAM’s exact goals and a clear roadmap and timeline to achieve them have yet to be presented, but from what its proponents have described in a recent Science paper the main aspiration of the project is to improve our understanding of how whole neuronal circuits work at the cellular level. The project seeks to monitor the activity of whole circuits as well as manipulate them to study their functional role. To reach these goals, first and foremost one must have technology capable of measuring the activity of individual neurons throughout the entire brain in a way that can discriminate individual circuits. The most obvious way to do this is by imaging the activity as it is occurring.

 

With improvements in the speed and resolution of existing microscopy setups and in the probes for monitoring activity, exhaustive imaging of neuronal function across a small transparent organism was bound to be possible—as this study has now shown.

 

The study has also made interesting discoveries. The authors saw correlated activity patterns measured at the cellular level that spanned large areas of the brain—pointing to the existence of broadly distributed functional circuits. The next steps will be to determine the causal role that these circuits play in behavior—something that will require improvements in the methods for 3D optogenetics. Obtaining the detailed anatomical map of these circuits will also be key to understand the brain’s organization at its deepest level.

 


Via Julien Hering, PhD, Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Cave-dwelling glowworms observe their neighbors and synchronize their luminescence cycles to match one another

Cave-dwelling glowworms observe their neighbors and synchronize their luminescence cycles to match one another | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

The silk webs of glowworms (Arachnocampa tasmaniensis) look like diamond chandeliers, their glowing threads dangling from dark cave ceilings to attract and snare flying insects. A new study reveals that unlike rainforest glowworms, these cave-dwelling larvae of fungus gnats synchronize their glowing patterns so the colony shines brightest during the day. After collecting two species of Arachnocampa larva from Australia,one from a cave in southern Tasmania and one from a rainforest in Queensland, scientists recreated their environments in the lab and allowed the creatures to build their webs. Then they filmed the bioluminescence patterns of each species throughout the day. The cave-dwelling glowworms observe their neighbors and synchronize their cycles of luminescence to match one another , while the rainforest species do not, the team reports this month in Integrative and Comparative Biology. And though the rainforest species shine brightest at night, the cave dwellers peak during the day—a strategy the researchers think may help the species ensnare the most prey.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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