Sunday, July 27, 2014

Modern Neuroscience: Brainbow and Clarity

Modern Neuroscience: Brainbow and Clarity

Wouldn’t it be cool if scientists could process a human beings brain with complete control and little risk? In today’s modern neuroscience department, a technique called Brainbowing was developed. In the mid-2000’s scientists discovered this technique that could light up the neurons of an objects brain (in this case a mouse) using fluorescent proteins. These proteins then illuminate living neurons in the brain and light them up like a light bulb. The caption here shows the character of how the axons monitor contractions of different muscles. The scientist that discovered these fluorescent proteins was Carl Schoonover.  Schoonover discovered these proteins in jellyfish, which originally was only green. With the modernization of this protein we see all the different colors they now have to study every part of the brain.

The studying of the brain has been ongoing since the late 1800’s. Camillo Golgi discovered that when Potassium Dichromate and Silver Nitrate come in contact with the brain it has the potential to turn neurons black. The caption left shows Golgi’s work of a dog’s olfactory bulb, which is the most forward part of the brain, and more importantly was the first time imaging nerve cells.  A technique, such as Golgi’s, was the beginning of something more powerful upcoming through neuroscience departments.

Another technique discovered by Stanford University’s scientists called the Clarity process, is extremely efficient and accurate. The process works amazingly, preserving the biochemistry so scientists are able to test multiple times with chemicals that illuminate certain structures in the brain. Overtime and after multiple trials, scientists can observe past activity which will provide clues to significant mental disorders.  Illnesses like autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and Post-traumatic stress disorder would be only a few of the cures scientists could exemplify from the Clarity process. However, this procedure is not part of Obama’s initiative (according to Dr. Deisseroth) to explore the secrets of the human brain. The caption to the right is a mouse’s brain being illuminated with dye and made transparent using the new Clarity method.

New scientific approaches to studying the brain enable scientists to view the networks and circuits of the brain. This three dimensional knowledge will allow scientists to know special arrangements in volumes in cancer stem cells and locate where the cancer has developed. Dr. Deisseroth’s main focus is determining how mental disorders like autism and schizophrenia abnormality in their brain can be related to these three dimensional wiring and conductivity differences. Clarity can show these abnormalities without disassembling the tissue which makes the process much safer and accurate. The hydrogel (gel where water is liquid component) used in this process brings a similar process like fossilization that adds strength to the existing tissue, but the main structure and form is maintained in place for further analysis. This video below is Dr. Deisseroth and his analysis of the Clarity process.
With men like Dr. Deisseroth, humanity will soon perfect it's medical techniques of studying the brain and how it works. Personally I think this could be the key to allowing man to live longer or even forever. Man has an obsession with not wanting to die and these brain studying techniques will soon be applied for everyday diagnosis. 


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