By Kevin Doxzen Perception is how we connect with the world around us: from grasping the steering wheel of a car to smelling a fresh cup of coffee in the morning. We often take these experiences for granted. Yet they are actually the result of a finely tuned coordination between complex neural networks in our brain. […]
Turn the Light On: A Non-visual Opsin Could Help Future Studies of the Brain and Central Nervous System
In the on-going search for a better understanding of how the brain and central nervous system develop, a potentially powerful new tool could soon be available. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation. Ehud […]
A new genetic therapy not only helped blind mice regain enough light sensitivity to distinguish flashing from non-flashing lights, but also restored light response to the retinas of dogs, setting the stage for future clinical trials of the therapy in humans. The therapy employs a virus to insert a gene for a common ion channel […]
The National Institutes of Health today announced its first research grants through President Barack Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, including three awards to the University of California, Berkeley, totaling nearly $7.2 million over three years. The projects are among 58 funded in this initial wave of NIH grants, involving 100 researchers and a total of $46 million […]
Two state-of-the-art research areas – nanotech and optogenetics – were the dominant theme last Thursday, Sept. 18, as six researchers from UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory sketched out their teams’ bold plans to jump-start new brain research. The rapid-fire talks kicked off a one-of-a-kind collaboration among the three institutions in […]
UC Berkeley neuroscientists plan to use light to tweak the transmission of signals in the brain to learn more about how the mouse brain and presumably the human brain process information. Last month, the research project was awarded one of 36 new $300,000, two-year grants from the National Science Foundation in support of President Obama’s […]
It is possible to eat until your stomach bursts open, but most people will never come close to this horror. Feeling like your stomach might burst, for example after gorging on a large Thanksgiving feast, is the painful signal that tells you to stop eating and saves you from a worse fate. The neuronal circuits that control our eating behavior have evolved to keep us well fed, but not overfed. There are triggers that tell you to start eating, such as hunger and the availability of food, and triggers that tell you to stop, such as sensation of dangerous foods or gut distension.
But what if that system was broken? Kristin Scott’s lab at UC Berkeley has discovered a small set of neurons in the fruit fly that chronically inhibit eating. Without them, the animal will eat until it regurgitates, excretes, or explodes.
Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed an easier and more effective method for inserting genes into eye cells that could greatly expand gene therapy to help restore sight to patients with blinding diseases ranging from inherited defects like retinitis pigmentosa to degenerative illnesses of old age, such as macular degeneration. Unlike current treatments, the new […]