Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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One Direction

Cells in zebrafish that sense the direction of motion observed as they connect to nerves to feedback to the brain

31 August 2018

One Direction

How do you know which way you’re going? The answer lies in the mechanosensory system: a collection of sensory and nerve cells that gather information from the environment and feed it back to the brain. These green flower-like images are zebrafish sensory hair cells, kept alive under a microscope and watched over several hours as they connect up to a nerve cell (red). They’re normally found along the side of the fish, transmitting information about the direction of water flowing over them so they know which way they’re going. Some cells sense forward motion, while others can detect backwards flow. Impressively, the cells will still connect back up correctly after they are damaged and replaced or the nerves are cut. Similar combinations of hair cells and nerves are found in human sensory organs like the ear, so it will be interesting to see if these wiring processes are the same.

Written by Kat Arney

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