The best neuroscience news this week from around the web: gene editing, connectomics, and how scientists can engineer taste.
The Atlantic – What Can You Actually Do With Your Fancy Gene Editing Technology? [SIMPLE SCIENCE / LONG READ]
ENGINEERING THE GENOME: Neurological and mental health disorders are influenced by genetic as well as environmental factors. In the past few years, technologies for directly editing genomes (including the human genome) have become cheaper, easier, and more widespread, raising the possibility that disorders could be prevented with gene editing techniques. But just how feasible will this be?
Neuroscience News – Sensor Provides Real Time View of Neural Activity [COMPLEX SCIENCE / SHORT READ]
ILLUMINATING YOUR BRAIN: How can we figure out how neurons produce behaviour? Ideally we could watch thousands or millions of individual neurons in action as an animal goes about its business, and do so at the same time scale that neurons operate at. Now, with the help of proteins from algae, this is becoming feasible. Linking this activity map with a connectivity map (previous story) would go a long way to letting us decode the brain’s operating logic.
The Dana Foundation – A Very Big Map: Connectomics And Its Limits [MEDIUM SCIENCE / LONG READ]
A BIG PROBLEM: Neuroscientists want a high-resolution map of how the brain’s 86 billion neurons connect to each other – this represents the field of ‘connectomics’. This is a really difficult task, as explained in this article. What’s more, success would still only provide a snapshot of a brain – we’ll still have to figure out how all those neurons interact to produce behaviours!