Researchers at the University of Michigan are using mice to determine how neural networks really work. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were implated into mice brains, allowing researchers to determine how stimuli to one neuron affects other neurons in the area. Each LED is less than a tenth of a millimeter wide and approximately the same size as a neuron.
This is ground-breaking research. Previously, the links between neuron stimuli could not be followed, but with LED technology, it can be. The microelectrodes are able to measure activity at the neuron-level, reporting how a change in one neuron can affect the surrounding network. This allows researchers to understand how neurons communicate with one another.
"Now we can know how a group of cells, both adjacent and farther away, are responding to the activation of a single cell," Wu said. "This will help us better understand how these cells are communicating with each other."
Scientific understanding of the brain is very limited, but this work will allow researchers to better understand the brain and how it communicates, making it possible for researchers to treat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, autism, and cerebral palsy.
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