See-Through Brain Developed

April 10th, 2013 | Brain




See-Through Brain Development

The world’s very first See-Through Brain has been developed by a team at Stanford University led by Karl Deisseroth (M.D., Ph.D.).  Deisseroth is well-known for his critical role in the development of Optogenetics, a tool used to control individual neurons with light.  Optogenetics is normally limited to surface neurons because the light has trouble reaching deeper areas, but the see-through brain may greatly enhance its efficacy.

The new method (termed CLARITY) involves removing the fat that provides structure but also blocks light.  The brain is soaked in a chemical that forms a nanoporous hydrogel-hybridized mesh in the brain.  This mesh can then support all the tissue so the fat can be washed away, resulting in the incredible see-through brain.

Unfortunately, the new technique can’t be used in living animals, but it still represents a huge advancement for neuroanatomists.  No longer will there be much need to cut the brain into tiny slices (an extremely time-consuming process) to observe connectivity.

The announcement comes just a week after President Barack Obama announced a $100 million BRAIN initiative, and this new step forward surely offers a taste of the sort of technological breakthroughs the initiative hopes to achieve.

And all the Leaders in Neuroscience seem to be weighing in on this one:

“I can’t make any official statement, but I can say that this is exactly the type of technology one would hope to develop for the [BRAIN] project” – Dr. Michelle Freund, a program manager with the National Institutes of Mental Health

“If the entire mouse brain is transparent, that makes a very large fraction of neuroscience research much easier”  – Dr. R. Clay Reid of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.

This technique “is a giant step forward from having to slice the mouse brain into 1,000 pieces and looking at them each individually, then trying to reconstruct the relationships of all those slices” – Dr. Cori Bargmann of Rockefeller University, a co-leader of Obama’s brain initiative.

“It’s exactly the technique everyone’s been waiting for”- Dr. Terry Sejnowski of the Salk Institute.


 Karl Deisseroth, mastermind of the CLARITY technique

It is certainly an exciting time to be a Neuroscientist.

You can find the full article here.


Your Thoughts Are Welcome

One thought on “See-Through Brain Developed

  1. Eric

    The difference beewetn redundancy and replication is in the total content of the study presented. Replication of course is very important in science. But when a study only replicates older data, but with a newer technique it is redundant. Scientists should answer new questions. And in the process of answering these they should check the basis of their work with controls and first experiments. These controls are the replications of scientific work.


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