Fluorescent dyes track brain cell functions

June 19, 1998

A novel technique for following what happens in brain cells during processes such as learning, memory acquisition and cell death has been developed by scientists at Aston University.

Nick Hartell, of Aston's Pharmaceutical Sciences department, is using special fluorescent dyes, injected into brain cells, to highlight the particular chemicals that are produced when cells communicate. He is then tracking them using high-resolution cameras. The technique, which enables researchers to examine changes within cells in minute detail, could shine new light on what takes place in the brain when it learns new information, responds to stimuli and reacts to the death of cells.

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