For the first time, researchers have recorded the progress of a thought as it travels through the brain of a living fish. Using a two step approach, Akira Muto and his team in Japan say it is now possible to identify the brain circuits involved in complex behaviours, a development that could one day be used in psychiatric drug research. Rob Muir has more.
This is what a thought looks like. Neurons inside the brain of a zebrafish flash orange as it contemplates a meal, a single cell paramecium, swimming around the fish's head. By gentically engineerig rhe fish with a fluorescent protein inside specific neurons of the brain where visual stumilii are processed, researchers in Japan were able to watch the fish think in real time. The scientists say the technology makes it possible to identify the individual brain circuits involved in complex behaviours. They believe their research could one day be adapted for the study of new psychiatric drugs for humans, whose brains are wired in much the same way as the fish.