“Neuroscience — one of the greatest challenges facing science and engineering — is at a crossroads.
There exist few general theories or principles that explain brain function [due partly to] limitations in current methodologies,” say neuroscientists in a new ACS Nano open-access paper, “Nanotools for Neuroscience and Brain Activity Mapping.”
Traditional neurophysiological approaches record the activities of one neuron or a few neurons at a time. Neurochemical approaches focus on single neurotransmitters. Yet, there is an increasing realization that neural circuits operate at emergent levels, where the interactions between hundreds or thousands of neurons, utilizing multiple chemical transmitters, generate functional states.
Entirely new tools will ultimately be required both to study neurons and neural circuits with minimal perturbation and to study the human brain.