Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flipping a switch on neuron activity

Date:
March 7, 2011
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
All our daily activities, from driving to work to solving a crossword puzzle, depend on signals carried along the body's vast network of neurons. Propagation of these signals is, in turn, dependent on myriad small molecules within nerve cells -- receptors, ion channels and transmitters -- turning on and off in complex cascades.

All our daily activities, from driving to work to solving a crossword puzzle, depend on signals carried along the body's vast network of neurons. Propagation of these signals is, in turn, dependent on myriad small molecules within nerve cells -- receptors, ion channels, and transmitters -- turning on and off in complex cascades. Until recently, the study of these molecules in real time has not been possible, but researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Munich have attached light-sensing modules to neuronal molecules, resulting in molecules that can be turned on and off with simple flashes of light.

"We get millisecond accuracy," says Joshua Levitz, a graduate student at Berkeley and first author of the study. According to Levitz, the "biggest advantage is that we can probe specific receptors in living organisms." Previous methods using pharmacological agents were much less specific, affecting every receptor in every cell. Now, investigators can select individual cells for activation by focusing light. And by attaching light-sensing modules to one class of molecules at a time, they can parse the contributions of individual classes to neuronal behavior.

Levitz will be presenting a system in which G-protein-coupled receptors, molecules that play key roles in transmitting signals within cells, can be selectively activated. He is planning to use the system to study the hippocampus, a region of the brain where memories are formed, stored and maintained. There may be clinical utility to the system as well, he points out. G-protein-coupled receptors are also critical for vision in the retina, and light-sensing versions could potentially be introduced into people with damaged retinas in order to restore sight.

The research was funded by the Nanomedicine Development Center at the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Flipping a switch on neuron activity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110307093022.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2011, March 7). Flipping a switch on neuron activity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110307093022.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Flipping a switch on neuron activity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110307093022.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins