Studying mental illnesses involves complex brain-monitoring technology to watch how neurons and large-scale brain components are functioning or malfunctioning. But researchers are increasingly getting out of their patients’ heads, monitoring brain cells in petri dishes instead. This is possible with stem cells, and it could yield plenty of new avenues for psychiatric research.
In 2007, Harvard scientists figured out how to combine fluorescent proteins to create an entire color palette, and then used it to make mouse neurons glow so they could be traced through the brain. The “Brainbow” technique has helped scientists follow neurons’ connections, which had been almost impossible to untangle.
An updated version of a neurochip can monitor brain cells' communications at the clearest resolution yet, according to scientists in Canada. It's cellular-scale mind-reading -- or mind-listening, to be more precise.