Thursday, March 1, 2007

Method Developed for Mapping Neural Connections

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have developed a new method for identifying all of the connections to a single neuron in the human brain. Researchers have said they won’t be able to understand the brain until they can put together a map of how billions of neurons are interconnected.

The Salk researchers identified the connections by modifying the deadly rabies virus, turning it into a tool that can cross the synaptic space of a targeted nerve cell just once to identify all the neurons to which it is directly connected.

With luck and given time, neural science researchers will be able to map all of the connections in the human brain, which will lead to a better understanding of how the brain--and hopefully, human thought and sensory perception--works.

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