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How the brain senses hot and cold

Identifying a part of the brain in mice, that detects hot and cold temperatures, may help to better understand disorders related to sensing and responding to the environment.

Researchers at EARA member Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Center, both Germany, discovered a 'thermal cortex' (pictured) in the brains of mice by observing how they reacted when their paws were exposed to mild temperatures.

The scientists found that there were specific neurons in the brain that responded to warmer or cooler temperatures, or both, and that when these were deactivated, the mice no longer felt any sensation related to temperature.

Prof James Poulet, at Max Delbrück and Charité, said: “Understanding how the brain works is a final frontier of science, and investigating sensory perception is a good way of trying to do that.”



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