Watch a Translucent Fish's Brain Light Up, Literally
A 21-day-old zebrafish. Researchers have engineered zebrafish, which are naturally translucent when they're young, to have brain circuits that glow green while they're at work.
CREDIT: Shawn Burgess, NHGRI
Researchers have engineered a small, transparent fish whose brain circuits glow green whenever they're working. The fish — made using a common lab species called zebrafish — could help other researchers learn more about animal brains, the New Scientist reported.
The fish's creators, a team of scientists at the National Institute of Genetics in Japan, tested their little inventions by holding the fish still and showing them flashing dots. Whenever the dot appeared, the researchers watched cells in the region in the fish's brains responsible for vision light up. Whenever the dot disappeared, the cells went dark. (No word on how zebrafish's responses compare to cats' responses to laser pointers.)
The dot experiment and other experiments helped the team learn a few things about zebrafish vision. For example, the researchers found that up-and-down movements are mapped over a larger region of the brain than side-to-side movements, suggesting that zebrafish — and perhaps other animals, including humans — are better detecting differences in vertical distance than in horizontal distance, Koichi Kawakami, the lead creator of the new zebrafish, told the New Scientist.
Next, Kawakami said he plans to watch the zebrafish while they learn and think, hoping to glean some basics about what brain circuits are responsible for thought in all animals.
Watch the fish brains at work:
Source: New Scientist