Identifying the Principal Protein Sensor for Touch

Sense of Touch Research

A team led by biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has solved a long-standing mystery in neuroscience by identifying the “mechanoreceptor” protein that mediates the sense of touch in mammals. Mice that lack the Piezo2 ion-channel protein in their skin cells and nerve endings lose nearly all their sensitivity to ordinary light touch, but retain a mostly normal sensitivity to painful mechanical stimuli. Read More →

To See or Not to See

Motor-Neurons

The brain is a complicated network of small units called neurons, all working to carry information from the outside world, create an internal model, and generate a response. Neurons sense a signal through branching dendrites, carry this signal to the cell body, and send it onwards through a long axon to signal the next neuron. However, neurons can function in many different ways; some of which researchers are still exploring. Read More →

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 →