Transparent fish helping to shine new light on how we move

October 5, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The natural transparency of young zebrafish has allowed neuroscientists to use light, much like we use a remote control, to turn on and off neurons that may be responsible for how we move our bodies.

The natural transparency of young zebrafish has allowed neuroscientists to use light, much like we use a remote control, to turn on and off that may be responsible for how we move our bodies.

Dr Ethan Scott's young team of researchers at UQ's School of Biomedical Sciences are working with light sensitive proteins which, when expressed in these neurons, causes them to be activated or inactivated by light.

“There are a couple of reasons why we study zebrafish. One is that certain parts of their brain and are arranged similarly to those in humans,” Dr Scott said.

“Secondly, zebrafish are transparent when they are very young, so we can look at structures inside of them, while they are still alive and intact.”

Dr Scott recently had a paper he collaborated on published in Nature, which demonstrated how light could be used to stimulate specific neurons that led to spontaneous swimming behavior in zebrafish.

“My role in the project was to develop transgenic tools that they used in their study to allow for the expression of various light sensitive proteins in specific neurons,” he said.

“It is these same line of tools that I brought here to the University of Queensland, to learn more about different neurons and their functions, in particular more complex circuits related to coordinated movement.”

“In the long run such research should provide insight into how the healthy produces certain behaviours, and how these processes go wrong in patients with mental disorders.”

Given that such a goal is a long way off, Dr Scott and his team are just happy to try and understand the purpose of other neurons associated with movement in .

“In the next 10 years the challenge will be to keep track of all the tools that are being developed and use these wisely to address the functions of behavioural circuits,” he said.

Provided by University of Queensland (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists discover common obesity and diabetes drug reduces rise in brain pressure

August 23, 2017
Research led by the University of Birmingham, published today in Science Translational Medicine, has discovered that a drug commonly used to treat patients with either obesity or Type II diabetes could be used as a novel ...

Use of brain-computer interface, virtual avatar could help people with gait disabilities

August 23, 2017
Researchers from the University of Houston have shown for the first time that the use of a brain-computer interface augmented with a virtual walking avatar can control gait, suggesting the protocol may help patients recover ...

Researcher working to develop new tool for non-invasive neuromodulation of human brain

August 23, 2017
A UTA researcher is developing a technology that will map and image the effects of infrared light shone on the human brain that may be able to modulate and improve brain waves and circuits at certain spots in the brain.

Physicist reports binary marker of preclinical and clinical Alzheimer's disease

August 23, 2017
A new technique shows high potential for providing a discrete, non-invasive biomarker of Alzheimer's disease (AD) at the individual level during both preclinical and clinical stages. The proposed biomarker has a large effect ...

Firing of neurons changes the cells that insulate them

August 22, 2017
Through their pattern of firing, neurons influence the behavior of the cells that upon maturation will provide insulation of neuronal axons, according to a new study publishing 22 August in the open access journal PLOS Biology ...

Activating brain region creates intense desire to use cocaine

August 22, 2017
Researchers have identified a portion of the brain that intensifies one's desire for certain rewards—in this case, mimicking addiction to cocaine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.