Connecting Every Neuron: The Future Of Brain-Mapping And Illness Discovery
The brain has been a mythologized artifact of humanity for as long as we can remember. You've seen its raw potentialepitomized in sci-fi films, its grace harnessed by artists, and its endless futureencapsulated by scientists. We've barely cracked the surface of its depths, and there are several years of research before we can pat ourselves on the back. That's not to say our current achievements are lackluster - quite the opposite, actually. We've come so far the avenue for continued study is immense.
Many of our goals regarding the brain require one thing -- a full understanding of the connections between our brains' neurons. If we ever wish to fulfill our desire of understanding thought, or illnesses like schizophrenia or autism, we need to map every signal sent between all of the neurons in the brain. And we just have. Get ready for an unprecedented amount of cranial detail.
The new technique, called an MAP-sequence, is a revolution to current standards of mapping neuronal connections. Today, we use pigmented proteins and ridiculously expensive microscopes to see what parts of a patient's brain are firing whenever they visualize a certain thought or desire. That technique isn't wrong or outmoded - in fact it makes a lot of sense. If you can begin to associate the color of a protein with a certain region or function of the brain, we can immediately know what a patient is doing, thinking, or saying when a color pops up under the microscope.