Developmental Biology

Neurophilosophy

Category archives for Developmental Biology

PhD Comics brain development infographic

Click to enlarge THIS cartoon by Dwayne Godwin, a professor of neurobiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and Jorge Cham, the former researcher and cartoonist who created PhD Comics, has won first place in the informational graphics category of the 2009 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.  The New York Times has a…

Alzheimer’s recapitulates brain development

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting more than 400,000 people in the U.K. and some 5.5 million in the U.S. The disease has a characteristic pathology, which often appears first in the hippocampus, and then spreads to other regions of the brain. This is accompanied by impairments in cognition, with cell…

Cellular “tug-of-war” breaks brain symmetry

The brains of vertebrates are asymmetrical, both structurally and functionally. This asymmetry is believed to increase the efficiency of information processing – one hemisphere  is specialized to perform certain functions, so the opposite is left free to perform others. In the human brain, for example, the left hemisphere is specialized for speech. This has been…

Zebrafish brainbow bioscape

This beautiful image of the brain of a 5-day-old zebrafish larva, which was created by Albert Pan of Harvard University, has just won 4th place in the 2008 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging competition. (See a larger version here.) It was created using the Brainbow technique, a genetic method for labelling neurons, with which individual cells…

Embryonic stem cells form functional brain tissue

A team of Japanese researchers has demonstrated that embryonic stem cells obtained from  mice and humans can spontaneously organize themselves into cortical tissues when grown in a culture dish under special conditions. Reporting in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the researchers show that the neurons generated form functioning short-range and long-range connections, and  can be …

Awesome movies of zebrafish embryogenesis

This reconstruction, produced by researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany using a technique called digital scanned laser light sheet fluorescence microscopy, shows the movements of all 16,000 cells in an 18-hour-old zebrafish embryo. To make the film, the researchers injected a fluorescent protein into an embryo at the one cell stage.…

The eye tells the brain when to plasticize

The classic Nobel Prize-winning studies of David Hubel and Torsten Weisel showed how the proper maturation of the developing visual cortex is critically dependent upon visual information received from the eyes. In what would today be considered highly unethical experiments, Hubel and Weisel sewed shut one eye of newborn kittens. They found that this monocular…

An overview of corticogenesis

The winners of the first Kavli Prize were announced a couple of weeks ago. One of the three recipients of the prize for neuroscience was Pasko Rakic, a professor of neurobiology and neurology at the Yale School of Medicine. Rakic has spent most of his career investigating the development of the cerebral cortex of man…

w00t! Top of the class!

The word “wOOt” – spelt with zeros instead of the letter ‘o’ – has just been voted as Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary’s Word of the Year. Coined by internet users, and defined as an interjection “expressing joy”, it’s quite apt today, because my axon guidance essay was returned with a mark of 80%.  I posted the…

Axon guidance: New directions

[Introduction|Part 2|Part 3] The three studies discussed here make important contributions to our understanding of axon guidance. Lopez-Bendito et al describe a novel guidance mechanism involving tangentially migrating GABAergic interneurons. These cells migrate ventrally from the LGE to form a permissive corridor through the MGE, a region that is otherwise non-permissive for TCAs. The corridor…