Have you heard about this method of illuminating neurons in action?
The researchers used the method to monitor activity in two populations of neurons in the striatum — a region that regulates movement — in eight mice. They found that one set of cells, called the direct-pathway neurons, are most active when the animals make a large turn or move across their cage. The second set, indirect-pathway neurons, are most active when mice pause.
The first set of neurons initiates a movement and calibrates how vigorous it will be, the researchers say, and the second determines whether the movement will stop or continue.
These two pathways have never been observed simultaneously in the same animal, the researchers reported 16 May in Neuron. Scientists could use the system to study how neuron ensembles communicate and produce behaviors, and to analyze alterations in that activity in conditions such as autism.
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