Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Computers used to 'see' neurons to better understand brain function

Date:
March 6, 2014
Source:
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science
Summary:
A study reveals new information about the motor circuits of the brain that may one day help those developing therapies to treat conditions such as stroke, schizophrenia, spinal cord injury or Alzheimer's disease. In this study, which processed images and reconstructed neuronal motor circuitry in the brain, the researchers collected and analyzed data on minute structures over various developmental stages, linking neuroscience and computer science.

Gavriil Tsechpenakis and Tiange (Tony) Qu working in the lab.
Credit: Image courtesy of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science

A study conducted by local high school students and faculty from the Department of Computer and Information Science in the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis reveals new information about the motor circuits of the brain that may one day help those developing therapies to treat conditions such as stroke, schizophrenia, spinal cord injury or Alzheimer's disease.

"MRI and CAT scans of the human brain can tell us many things about the structure of this most complicated of organs, formed of trillions of neurons and the synapses via which they communicate. But we are a long way away from having imaging techniques that can show single neurons in a complex brain like the human brain," said Gavriil Tsechpenakis, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science in the School of Science at IUPUI.

"But using the tools of artificial intelligence, specifically computer vision and image processing, we are able to visualize and process actual neurons of model organisms. Our work in the brain of a model organism -- the fruit fly -- will help us and other researchers move forward to more complex organisms with the ultimate goal of reconstructing the human central nervous system to gain insight into what goes wrong at the cellular level when devastating disorders of the brain and spinal cord occur. This understanding may ultimately inform the treatment of these conditions," said Tsechpenakis.

In this study, which processed images and reconstructed neuronal motor circuitry in the brain, the researchers, who included two Indianapolis high school students -- Rachel Stephens and Tiange (Tony) Qu -- collected and analyzed data on minute structures over various developmental stages, efforts linking neuroscience and computer science.

"Both high school students who worked on this study performed neuroscience and computation efforts similar to that conducted elsewhere by graduate students. It was impressive to see what sophisticated and key work they could -- with mentoring -- do," said Tsechpenakis.

Qu said the work was initially rather scary and intimidating but that he rapidly grew to appreciate the opportunity to work in the School of Science lab. "Unlike high school, we were not told how to get from point A to point B. Dr. Tsechpenakis explained what point A and B were and taught us how to figure out how to get from A to B."

Qu, a 17-year-old senior at Ben Davis High School, now sees neuroscience as a potential college major with biomedical research as an eventual career goal. He continues to work in the lab after school focusing on change over time in fruit fly larvae motor neurons.

Stephens, a senior at North Central High School, said she enjoyed the collaborative nature of the research, with computer scientists and life scientists working together on a problem.

"Dr. Tsechpenakis made it clear to us that different perspectives are necessary, and the ability to think about a problem is more valuable than the education and training you've had," she said. "Before I joined the lab I hadn't really thought about how computer science could help heal." The 17-year-old plans a pre-med major in college and a career as a physician.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science. The original article was written by Cindy Fox Aisen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science. "Computers used to 'see' neurons to better understand brain function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306112259.htm>.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science. (2014, March 6). Computers used to 'see' neurons to better understand brain function. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306112259.htm
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science. "Computers used to 'see' neurons to better understand brain function." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306112259.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
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