Each image is of the same exact neurons of a genetically defined group of cells. But some (left) fire while mice search for food; others (right) fire while the mice eat food. (credit: Garret Stuber, PhD)

Each image is of the same exact neurons of a genetically defined group of cells. But some (left) fire while mice search for food; others (right) fire while the mice eat food. (credit: Garret Stuber, PhD)

I believe that research into how the brain works is going to be a major focus in medicine. Validating that belief are a number of recent news reports on research advances. One of those comes from the UNC School of Medicine, via Kurzweilai.net.

The UNC researchers used new deep-brain imaging techniques to link the activity of individual, genetically similar neurons to particular behaviors in mice. They were able to watch as one neuron was activated when a mouse searched for food, while a nearly identical neuron next to it remained inactive; instead, the second neuron only became activated when the mouse began eating.

The ability to view the firing of individual neurons during real-time activity is going to result in extraordinary insight and understanding of the brain’s complex mechanisms. Our increased knowledge will surely lead to new therapies and medical devices to treat not only brain disease/disorders, but also maladies in all parts of our bodies.