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22 July 2013
Pictures in Mind
Neuroscientists have an extraordinary challenge to see how the brain works. It functions so quickly and is so densely populated with neuron networks and their supporting cells, technology is not yet advanced enough to allow us to see everything at once. But new methods and technologies are constantly evolving; here’s an image of a whole Zebrafish brain caught in the process sending messages. Every bright spot in the picture is an individual neuron filled with calcium – an ion that floods into the nerve cell when it sends a message. This method enables researchers to see how the whole brain works together and see how the activation of single neurons add together in the larger network. With methods like this it could be possible to map the function of every neuron network in the brain, helping to pinpoint the cause of disorders like epilepsy or schizophrenia.
Written by Mary-Clare Hallsworth

Philipp Keller
Misha Ahrens
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA
Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013; Published in Nature Methods 10, 413–420