Neuroscientists from Japan using the "light" of neurons in the brain of a living vertebrate, have developed a new technique for monitoring the activity of individual nerve cells and throughout the central nervous system in the living brain of the zebra fish, according to a paper published in the edition of Current Biology.
"We succeeded for the first time to conduct a study in which we tracked the animal’s brain activity in real time, recorded it without interfering with the vital functions of a living being. Now we can turn the invisible into the visible, which is the most important aspect of our discovery," - noted researcher at the National Institute of Genetics in Japan, Shizuoka Koichi Kawakami (Koichi Kawakami).
A group of neuroscientists led by Kawakami able to look inside the brain of the living zebra fish (Danio rerio), creating a new version of the protein GCaMP, having the ability to attach to the nerve cells, light passing through their completion of the electrical signal. Even in the weakest pulses cause neurons respond modified pigment molecule, so it is suitable for monitoring the nerves close to each other.
The authors got to experiment a zebra fish, infecting them with a retrovirus that contained the instructions for assembling protein molecules GCaMP. At first, making sure that the gene GCaMP was really "installed" in the most "relevant" neurons, scientists used a highly sensitive digital cameras began to closely monitor the behavior of fish.
Upgraded molecule GCaMP enabled neuroscientists to trace the activities of nerve cells in the brain of the fish while it is hunting for prey. Kawakami and colleagues were able to identify parts of the brain of fish, monitoring the work of the eyes and the "guidance" Danio rerio on infusorian slipper (in this case, it was her goal) with the ability to monitor individual neurons and the brain as a whole.
"In the future, this technique we can use to explain the behavior of animals, including the study of memory and emotion. Also, such studies will help us to fast track the influence of drugs developed specifically for the treatment of mental disorders in the brain," - said in the conclusion of Kawakami .