Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Susan Young Rojahn

A View from Susan Young Rojahn

Video: Near-Whole Brain Activity Map in Fish

Researchers show off flashing fish brains and the technology behind them.

  • August 26, 2013

A few months ago, I wrote about a flashy study from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus: researchers reported that they were able to watch the individual activity of nearly all the neurons in a fish’s brain at the same time (see “A Near-Whole Brain Activity Map in Fish”).

Now, HHMI has put together a video about the work, and it’s worth a look. Neuroscientist Philipp Keller explains how some of the technology behind the experiment works. Best of all, we get to see more of the complex flickering constellations of brain cells—fish thoughts in action. This work is the first time researchers have been able to look at the activity of nearly all neurons in a vertebrate brain.

The meaning of the complex patterns seen in the fish brains remains a mystery for the most part. Solving that mystery is an important goal of the U.S. government’s BRAIN initiative, an ambitious, well-funded project to better understand how the brain works that was announced earlier this year (see “Why Obama’s Brain-Mapping Project Matters”). The HHMI technology could help by giving researchers a way to watch how neurons in different brain regions work together.

That may be best achieved with an upcoming experiment mentioned in the video. HHMI neuroscientist Misha Ahrens says that the brain activity mapping technology will be combined with a zebrafish virtual reality set up so the fish can “respond” to its environment (the fish is actually tethered, but with VR, the little swimmers think they are moving) while its brain activity is recorded. Other researchers have captured video of a tethered fish watching its prey (see “Watching Fish Thoughts Form”), but this new experiment promises even greater details of the inner workings of the vertebrate mind.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.