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Eavesdropping on Neurons

A new automated version of one of neuroscience’s most important techniques, patch clamping, makes it much easier and faster for scientists to tap into the inner workings of brain cells.

Several new tools for exploring individual neurons allow scientists to probe the workings of the brain in great detail. Optogenetics makes it possible to turn specific neurons on and off in lab animals to determine how those brain cells are affecting activity. Patch clamping lets scientists record the electrical activity of neurons inside a living brain, a process that has now been automated.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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