Yearbook 2013

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The nervous system is characterized by extremely complex cell-cell interactions which primarily happen through chemical synapses. Mapping the structure of these intercellular networks is one of the major challenges in Neuroscience. The new field of Connectomics aims at the dense reconstruction of increasingly comprehensive nerve cell networks. Automated volume electron microscopy techniques are used for image acquisition. A major obstacle, however, is data reconstruction, for which unusual solutions such as mass reconstruction by crowd sourcing and online computer games are currently pursued. more
How does a fish steer its swim direction? Use of newly developed methods, including optogenetics and imaging, are beginning to yield neurobiological insights into this question. Scientists have now discovered that a part of the so-called reticular formation in the brainstem is employed as a “cockpit” for steering the tail. The steering function is carried out by a small group of just 15 nerve cells in this control center. The human brain controls body movements also through the reticular formation and presumably employs computational mechanisms similar to those of the fish. more
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