News & AnalysisNeuroscience

New Tools Light Up the Intricacies of the Brain

Science  22 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6161, pp. 917-918
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6161.917

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Europe and the United States have recently launched large neuroscience research initiatives aimed at untangling the complex workings of the human brain. Meeting this aim will require new tools that can map the brain's structure from the level of individual synapses to entire neural circuits and measure the activity of many neurons at once. At the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego last week, researchers presented new technologies that could help achieve those goals and discussed approaches for dealing with the tidal wave of data that such tools are already producing. Highlights from the meeting include advances in automated, high-throughput electron microscopy of brain tissue and a new imaging technique that can track the activity of up to 1000 neurons in real time as animals learn.