Double Vision: A Second Visual Pathway in Mice

A study of the mouse brain found that a region involved in processing visual motion does not depend on the area thought to be the primary source of visual information, but rather a separate structure. While a similar discovery in the analogous region of primates has yet to be made, this suggests the presence of non-conventional pathways in sensory processing and highlights that, even in widely studied areas, there is still much to learn. Continue reading Double Vision: A Second Visual Pathway in Mice

My Favorite Things

The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is an area of the brain located in the prefrontal cortex, which, as its name suggests, is the front part of the brain. The OFC is my favorite area of the brain, partially because it was the first region I studied, but mostly because of its complex role in motivated behaviors. The OFC is comprised of five subregions: medial, ventral, ventrolateral, … Continue reading My Favorite Things

Gad to the Bone

The Ventral Pallidum (VP) is an area of the brain that is part of the Basal Ganglia system. The VP is involved in regulating motivation and reward learning, connected with a variety of other brain regions, including another part of the Basal Ganglia called the Nucleus Accumbens (NAc). The NAc is also heavily implicated in motivation and reward learning, and a large part of the … Continue reading Gad to the Bone

Orange Crush

The Dorsal Raphe Nucleus, or DRN, is an area of the brain located along the midline of the brainstem that contains the largest number of serotonin containing (serotonergic) neurons in the brain. Serotonin participates in mood setting, sleep, social behavior, and many other things. Another cell type in this area are neurons that contain Glutamate Decarboxylase 1 (Gad1), which helps produce gamma-aminobutyeric acid (GABA), the … Continue reading Orange Crush

Sweet Serotonin

The Dorsal Raphe Nucleus, or DRN, is an area of the brain located along the midline of the brainstem, which is found towards the back of your brain. The DRN contains the largest number of serotonin-containing neurons, called serotonergic neurons, in the brain. You may recognize serotonin from the drug advertisements on TV, as it is a popular target for treating depression. Unsurprisingly, serotonin is … Continue reading Sweet Serotonin

Shining A Light in the Brain: Optogenetics as a “guiding light” for deep brain stimulation

by Trevor Haynes In the late 18th century a particularly resourceful experimenter, Giovanni Aldini, saw scientific opportunity in the increasingly prevalent public executions being performed across Europe at the time. Using the corpse of a recently deceased prisoner, Aldini electrically stimulated the prisoner’s exposed brain causing his eyes to open and his face to contort and twitch, thus putting his uncle’s theory of bioelectricity to … Continue reading Shining A Light in the Brain: Optogenetics as a “guiding light” for deep brain stimulation

Brain tricks to make food taste sweeter: How to transform taste perception and why it matters

by Jessleen K. Kanwal figures by Brad Wierbowski Imagine for a moment that you are unable to taste or smell anything.  For many patients undergoing chemotherapy, this is an everyday reality of their daily fight against cancer.  Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cells in the body in an effort to eradicate tumors.  Taste receptor cells located on our tongue are also fast-growing, regenerating every 2 weeks.  Thus, … Continue reading Brain tricks to make food taste sweeter: How to transform taste perception and why it matters

Progress, but no breakthrough for Circadian Rhythms

From The ability to reset the circadian clock, which controls when animals are awake or asleep, could help people suffering from a variety of sleep and mood disorders. Authors of a new study in Nature Neuroscience claim to have made significant progress towards this goal, with clear applications to human health. Unfortunately, the above popular press article exaggerates the findings of the study. Like all … Continue reading Progress, but no breakthrough for Circadian Rhythms