Laboratory Exploration

/Laboratory Exploration
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Behavioral Profiling and Genetic Engineering: In Search of Animal Models for Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASD is a socially debilitating condition with an extraordinarily high rate of heritability. The prominent role of genetics in ASD has prompted scientists to search for genetic candidates for the disorder, a process that often involves the development of genetically engineered mice. For example, if a genetic mutation is identified through human studies as a […]

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Optogenetics: Shining a Light on the Brain’s Sleep–Wake Circuits

The Stanford neuroscientist Karl Deisseroth and his graduate student, Ed Boyden, were intrigued by the observation that certain algae could convert light into electrical energy, as photoreceptors in your eyes do. If these photoreceptive properties could be transferred to specific neurons in the brain, then those neurons could be controlled by light. By isolating the […]

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The Brain in Technicolor

Considering the vast number of cells in the nervous system, it is mind-boggling to comprehend how they all ultimately connect to form functioning neural networks. Clusters of neurons in the cerebellum, for example, form connections with populations of cell bodies in the prefrontal cortex. In humans, nearly 90 billion neurons have to establish connections to […]

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A Nicotine Vaccine?

With so many people dying from diseases related to nicotine addiction and cigarette smoking, pharmaceutical companies are motivated to develop drugs to help smokers kick the habit. Approaches such as nicotine gum and patches have been approved for general use, but they have not been effective in helping people quit smoking. Up to 70% of […]