Understanding how single neurons play distinct roles in different behaviours
Whether big or small, animal brains are made from nerve cells (neurons) wired together in circuits. Some circuits are highly specialised, controlling one specific behaviour in response to a particular stimulus. Others are much more complex, compiling lots of different types of information from the senses and triggering a range of actions. To find out more about how this works in a simple system, researchers have been studying the nervous system in leeches using a combination of highly sensitive methods for visualising nerve cells and measuring their activity. This image shows the individual nerve cells in a cluster known as a ganglion, with different colours highlighting various activity patterns during different behaviours such as swimming, crawling or escaping from danger. This technique enables researchers to analyse the inputs and outputs from single neurons, leading to deeper understanding of how they are wired together to create circuits and generate specific actions.
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