18 Mar 2010

Synaptic Connections and the Brain

From Our Changing World, 9:46 pm on 18 March 2010

Johanna Montgomery in the lab

(image: Centre for Brain Research)

This week is Brain Awareness Week, and Our Changing World is back at the University of Auckland's Centre for Brain Research where Johanna Montgomery (above) is recording the signals brain cells send to each other through the synapses.

Using techniques like live cell imaging and electrophysiology, the Synaptic Function Research Group is trying to understand the mechanisms guiding the formation, maintenance, plasticity and elimination of synapses.

As Ruth Beran discovers, growing the neurons in the lab and then watching them in real time is a delicate process.

This is the second story in a two-part series on the brain. The first story ran last week on Our Changing World and took a peek inside the Human Brain Bank with University of Auckland's Maurice Curtis who is using tissue from bequeathed brains to research neurodegenerative diseases.

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