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New methods for studying animal brains

Recent studies have successfully developed new ways to look at the brains of mice, to provide new insights and understanding.

US research, at Boston University, Massachusetts, and Yale University, Connecticut, has improved on a non-invasive technique that is used to track the activity of neurons in living animals, called voltage imaging.

Previously voltage imaging could only be used to look at a few neurons at a time, but the team has developed a new type of microscope that can successfully image around 100 neurons in the brains of mice. They also used AI to enhance their ability to detect the neurons in the images.

Professor Jerry Chen, at Boston, said: “It will allow us to better study diseases in which electrical activity is disturbed like during epilepsy.”

Meanwhile, scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switerland, as part of its Blue Brain project, have developed a model of the mouse brain that can be used to study the structure and function of interconnected neurons.

The model replicates the shapes and properties of 14,000 neurons, to provide new insights into brain rhythm alterations in neurodevelopmental disorders, for example.


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