Brain Science

Lighting the Way
Scientists at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have added a gene to the neurons in zebrafish brains that causes them to produce light each time they send a signal. Because zebrafish are transparent, the scientists can watch the sparkling activity of most of the 100,000 neurons in the animal’s brain. The patterns of flashes are giving them new insights into how all brains process information.
Bionic Brain
People with spinal cord injuries can’t move because the brain and body no longer communicate. Scientists hope to restore motion with a mechanical skeleton controlled by the wearer’s thoughts. It’s a daunting challenge: Hundreds of sensors must be implanted in the brain to send commands to the exoskeleton. Signals must also travel in reverse, from touch sensors telling the brain where the body is in space.
JASON TREAT, NGM STAFF; ANTHONY SCHICK
ART: BRYAN CHRISTIE
SOURCES: MIGUEL NICOLELIS, DUKE UNIVERSITY; GORDON CHENG, INSTITUTE FOR COGNITIVE SYSTEMS, TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAT MÜNCHEN, GERMANY