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New imaging techniques enable exploration of the brain in much more detail than ever before, opening the door to greater understanding of neurological problems and possibly new treatments, researchers say.
Showcased this week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, the research and innovations are the product of three US scientists involved in a project launched by former president Barack Obama in 2013 to unlock the inner workings of the brain.
Obama’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative promised a multidisciplinary approach, with a budget of $434 million for 2017, aimed at unlocking the mysteries of the brain and treating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia.
One of the technologies developed as part of the initiative, called Scape, enables scientists to see brain structures at a microscopic level.
Scape permits the three-dimensional observation of individual neurons in the brain of a fruit fly as the insect is in flight, searching for food or suddenly afraid for its life, said Elisabeth Hillman, professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University.
“You can see actually flashing green as the brain is telling the body to move,” she told the conference.
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