Presenters

Tools for Mapping and Controlling the Brain

Takeaways

 

  • Ed is mapping the brain wiring via expansion microscopy, a method where polymer is permeated through a preserved brain sample and then swollen with water.  The polymer expands, preserving nanoscale information about the brain and making it easier to map out the internal structures.  A combination of color coding and expansion seem to be the best approach.
  • This method can be used by other fields to perform easy mapping at the nano/micro scale.
  • Optogenetics is a technique that allows control over the brain via light.
  • Microbial opsins are used to convert light into control mechanisms within neurons.
  • A european team used optogenetics to restore a blind mans sight using gene therapy
  • Flickering lights and sounds could be used against Alzheimers based on early data.  It seems to clean up amyloid, tau, blood flow improves.
  • Imaging brain activity is extremely difficult
  • Directed evolution was used to identify a molecule that can be used to image neural activity
  • Light sheet, light field, and other types of microscopy could be used in conjunction with these up and coming voltage indicators.
  • The perfect voltage indictaor – high dynamic range, bright, fast, doesn’t photobleach – has not been invented yet. 
  • Ed has been involved in various collaborations in the past for developing robotic tools
  • He is creating a company called Cognito therapeutics
  • Visit synthneuro.org if you want to learn more about his work
  • He’s also launching a network to collect organisms from all over the planet for analysis, and is seeking ideal team members to work with him and his lab

 

Challenge

  •  Visualizing the processes in the brain