Flipping a switch on neurone activity

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 12:10 in Biology & Nature

All our daily activities, from driving to work to solving a crossword puzzle, depend on signals carried along the body's vast network of neurones. Propagation of these signals is, in turn, dependent on myriad small molecules within nerve cells - receptors, ion channels, and transmitters - turning on and off in complex cascades. Until recently, the study of these molecules in real time has not been possible, but researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Munich have attached light-sensing modules to neuronal molecules, resulting in molecules that can be turned on and off with simple flashes of light...

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