Social Media Sidebar

Announcement

Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.

 

Stephen Hawking

 

Tiny fibers open new windows into the brain

RATE THIS! +43
Posted in Science on 3rd Mar, 2017 07:47 PM by Alex Muller

Imagine a single flexible polymer fiber 200 micrometers across, about the width of a human hair, that can deliver a combination of optical, electrical, and chemical signals between different brain regions, with the softness and flexibility of brain tissue, allowing neuroscientists to leave implants in place and have them retain their function over long periods.

 
That’s what a team of MIT scientists has reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience. (Previous research efforts in neuroscience have generally relied on separate devices: needles to inject viral vectors for optogenetics, optical fibers for light delivery, and arrays of electrodes for recording, adding complication and the need for tricky alignments among the different devices.)
 
For example, in tests with lab mice, the researchers were able to inject viral vectors that carried genes called opsins (which sensitize neurons to light) through one of two fluid channels in the fiber. They waited for the opsins to take effect, then sent a pulse of light through the optical waveguide in the center, and recorded the resulting neuronal activity, using six electrodes to pinpoint specific reactions. All of this was done through a single flexible fiber.
 
“It can deliver the virus [containing the opsins] straight to the cell, and then stimulate the response and record the activity — and [the fiber] is sufficiently small and biocompatible so it can be kept in for a long time,” says Polina Anikeeva, a professor in the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
 
Since each fiber is so small, “potentially, we could use many of them to observe different regions of activity,” she says. In their initial tests, the researchers placed probes in two different brain regions at once, varying which regions they used from one experiment to the next, and measuring how long it took for responses to travel between them.
 
The key ingredient that made this multifunctional fiber possible was the development of conductive “wires” that maintained the needed flexibility while also carrying electrical signals well. The team engineered a composite of conductive polyethylene doped with graphite flakes. The polyethylene was initially formed into layers, sprinkled with graphite flakes, then compressed; then another pair of layers was added and compressed, and then another, and so on.
 
The team aims to reduce the width of the fibers further, to make their properties even closer to those of the neural tissue and use material that is even softer to match the adjacent tissue.
 
The research team included members of MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Department of Chemical Engineering, and Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as researchers at Tohuku University in Japan and Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
 
It was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Science Foundation, the MIT Center for Materials Science and Engineering, the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

Tags: brainneuroscienceresearchbiologyanatomy

Read original article » Back to category

Comments



 

Recent headlines

  • Posted in Hardware on 2017-07-21 13:25:35
    Elon Musk thinks a moon base would fire up public support.....read more
    Posted in Software on 2017-07-21 13:01:28
    Artificial intelligence can help better diagnose.....read more
    Posted in Medicine on 2017-07-21 12:57:01
    Blood test detects Alzheimer’s plaques building up in.....read more
    Posted in Medicine on 2017-07-20 18:29:45
    9 lifestyle changes can reduce dementia risk..read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-07-20 18:11:16
    Elon Musk has new affordable Mars plan with near Earth.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 Downloads..read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into new.....read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs,.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short Sighted..read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, but.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target mitochondria..read more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Obesity is top cause of preventable life-years lost, study shows..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Light can be utilized to control gene function..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Brain stimulation restores memory during lapses, research shows..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Wax worm caterpillar will eat plastic shopping bags: New.....read more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Username:
Password:
Remember me
or

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Username:
Email:
Password:
Verify password:
Remember me