Working with zebra fish, U.S. scientists have achieved a great performance: recorded brain activity of the entire brain of the animal, thus creating the first “map” almost full brain of a living organism.
Last month, a team of scientists in Japan announced that it had managed to film the “thoughts” of a zebra fish – the animal’s brain activity while he was watching his prey. High resolution images were limited to a certain area of the brain, optic tectum, a brain area associated with visual processes.
More recently, another scientific team, led by experts from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA, has reached a new level: managed to film everything that happens in the brain of a fish. Presents search results were published in the scientific journal Nature Methods.
The subject was again this a juvenile (fry), zebra fish, which have the great advantage of having clear head, thereby allowing researchers to film the nerve activity in the brain.
Scientists originally used a technique similar to Japanese experts: fish used in experiments were genetically modified so that neurons at their synaptic activity to occur by emission of light. (Synapses are the connections between neurons, which ensures the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain).
U.S. scientists have used a technique called “high-speed light-sheet microscopy,” known for some time, but had never before used so effectively and with results so impressive. Illuminating thin layers of only a few micrometers in the brain, at various levels, scientists have caught almost everything going on in the brain every 1.3 seconds.
Thus, they managed to record the activity of approximately 87% of brain zebra fish fry (a small part of the image is lost: either due to refraction of light, whether it was not visible because fish eye, which is interposed ray path light)
Approx. 92% of the total was recorded at a very high resolution, up to the level of a single cell, which is, after scientists estimates, there has been at least 80% of the overall activity of the brain at the neuron level.
In the next decade, scientists hope to achieve such studies and the human brain. Obviously, the obstacles are high, making things more difficult than the zebra fish fry. Apart from having transparent head, these creatures have the brain only about 100,000 neurons, while the human brain is about. 90 billion. And the technical obstacles plus the ethical.
However, the success of this research opens the way for in-depth study of nerve activity in humans in the context of increasingly intense concern for scientists to decipher the secrets of higher nervous activity – key to understanding how the human brain works.