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Studying Brain Functions with Near-Infrared Light

Studying Brain Functions with Near-Infrared Light—Technologies that reveal information about neuronal activity in model animals could provide important information about how the brain functions. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has awarded Vladislav Verkhusha, Ph.D., a three-year, $1.8 million BRAIN Initiative grant to engineer and apply genetically encoded calcium biosensors to neuronal imaging. Dr. Verkhusha and colleagues will develop two new biosensor classes that report on neuronal levels of calcium by emitting light in the near-infrared portion of the light spectrum. This light will pass through the skin to provide images of neuron activity in the brain’s cortex and deeper. The biosensors will also be combined with optogenetic tools that modulate the brain activity. These tools can be activated with the light of the different wavelength, independently of the near-infrared biosensors. The overall approach will increase knowledge of brain function and should lead to new treatments for brain disorders. Dr. Verkhusha is professor of anatomy and structural biology. (1U01NS103573-01)

Monday, September 11, 2017
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