When Neurons Have Less to Say, They Speak Up

Even when neurons in the visual cortex are cut off from their main source of information, within 48 hours their activity returns to a level similar to that prior to the disruption. Under the microscope the currently active cells light up thanks to the addition of a calcium indicator. Credit: MPI of Neurobiology/Hübener

Even when neurons in the visual cortex are cut off from their main source of information, within 48 hours their activity returns to a level similar to that prior to the disruption. Under the microscope the currently active cells light up thanks to the addition of a calcium indicator. Credit: MPI of Neurobiology/Hübener

The brain is an extremely adaptable organ – but it is also quite conservative. That’s in short, what scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried and their colleagues from the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel and the Ruhr-Universität Bochum were now able to show. The researchers found that neurons in the brain regulate their own activity in such a way that the overall activity level in the network remains as constant as possible. Read More →

Learn About the Brain [App Review]

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The 3D Brain app is a great introduction to the human brain, and it’s free. Users shouldn’t have too much trouble getting it to run, and it’s compatible with a majority of iOS devices. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (the app developer) has quickly become known for a few different biology apps.

The software allows budding neurologists or neuroscientists to poke around the various structures of the brain. Artists have color coded the different sections, though the labels are also helpful. In fact, colorblind users should still be able to get plenty of use out of the 3D Brain app. While one might expect the program to cover physiological injuries, the presence of mental health information was honestly a pleasant surprise.

Fans of scientific research might be interested in the lineage of the app. Genes to Cognition (G2C) Online provided the knowledge bank that the software runs on, while financing came from the Dana Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation. Anyone who finds that they want to dig deeper than the lessons here can easily cross-reference 3D Brain with another free source. The classic 1918 publication of Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body, for instance, is a great place to look up information after messing with the app for a while.