11 oktober 2011

C the brain

The group, based at the government-financed Riken Brain Science Institute in Wako, Japan, has created an inexpensive chemical cocktail that transforms dead biological tissue from a colored mass into what looks like translucent jelly. Soaking brain tissue in the solution makes it easier for neuroscientists to see what’s inside, a step they hope will uncover the physical basis of personality traits, memories and even consciousness.

“I’m very excited about the potential,” said Dr. Atsushi Miyawaki, a researcher on the team, which published its discovery in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
The chemical solution — patented under the name Scale, a phonetic approximation of the Japanese word for “transparent” — could help neuroscientists map the brain’s underlying architecture, though that goal is still a distant one. At the moment, researchers are working to build such a map, called a “connectome,” of mouse brains, which are far less complex than human ones.
Ultimately, this mapping could be conducted on brains of different ages, Dr. Miyawaki said, providing a glimpse into how the organ develops and even how genetic differences might affect that development.


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