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Gallio Lab Featured In Northwestern News – Can Read the Mind of a Fly

The Gallio Lab in the department of Neurobiology was featured in Northwestern News for a publication in Nature Communications entitled “Dynamic labelling of neural connections in multiple colors by trans-synaptic fluorescence complementation.”

The Gallio lab developed a new tool that lights up active conversations between neurons during a behavior or sensory experience. Mapping the pattern of individual neural connections could provide insights into the computational processes that underlie the workings of the human brain.

In a study focused on three of the fruit fly’s sensory systems, the researchers used fluorescent molecules of different colors to tag neural connections in the brain to see which were active during a sensory experience that happened hours earlier.

“Much of the brain’s computation happens at the level of synapses, where neurons are talking to each other,” said Marco Gallio, who led the study. “Our technique gives us a window of opportunity to see which synapses were engaged in communication during a particular behavior or sensory experience. It is a unique retrospective label.”

In addition to Gallio, other authors of the paper include Emanuela E. Zaharieva, Patrick J. Kearney and Michael H. Alpert, of Northwestern; Lindsey J. Macpherson (first author) and Zeynep Turan, of Columbia University; and Tzu-Yang Lin and Chi-Hon Lee, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

4 December 2015



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