Search the Synapse

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Brainbow: Brain Connectivity in Color

The recent article on the Princeton University website, "Virus 'explorers' probe inner workings of the brain", discusses how Princeton University researches are developing new methods of exploring brain connectivity through the use of virology. Genetically engineered viruses are able to leave color tracks as they travel through neurons, and through the use this technology, aptly termed "Brainbow," and a protein called CRE, neural connections can be studied. The significance of this is that unlike conventional tracers, Brainbow has the capability of distinguishing sections within a given circuit, as described below:
Enquist and his collaborators are using genetic engineering techniques to direct certain neurons, such as those that control a particular body function, to produce CRE. When the neurons that have been engineered to make CRE are infected by the new viral tracer, they will be different colors from infected neurons that are not making CRE. This will allow the researchers to see different subcircuits in the brain, Enquist explained.
Such technology has wide-spread implications for our understanding of the brain, including music and the brain. If neurons involved in certain specifics of music processing, say rhythm, can be genetically modified to produce CRE, then perhaps we can better understand specific circuits involved in music processing.

No comments:

Post a Comment