optogenetics

Discovery of Gatekeeper Nerve Cells Explains the Effect of Nicotine on Learning and Memory

Researchers discovered a new group of nerve cells that regulate processes of learning and memory. These cells act as gatekeepers and carry a receptor for nicotine, which can help explain our ability to remember and sort information. The newly discovered gatekeeper nerve cells, also called OLM-alpha2 cells, provide an explanation to how the flow of information is controlled in the hippocampus.... Read More...

Brain’s Stem Cells Eavesdrop to Find Out When to Act

Working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have figured out how stem cells found in a part of the brain responsible for learning, memory and mood regulation decide to remain dormant or create new brain cells. Apparently, the stem cells “listen in” on the chemical communication among nearby neurons to get an idea about what is stressing the system and when they need to act.... Read More...

Controlling Monkey Brains and Behavior With Light

Researchers can control the behavior of monkeys by using pulses of blue light to very specifically activate particular brain cells. The findings represent a key advance for optogenetics, a state-of-the-art method for making causal connections between brain activity and behavior. Researchers say that similar light-based mind control could likely also be made to work in humans for therapeutic ends.... Read More...