If the part is defective a mechanism to search for idle parts used electricity flow sensing through the various circuit components.
Bioengineer and a neuroscientist Jean-Hyun Lee of Stanford, studying Parkinson's disease, has adapted this idea to brain diseases, creating a new way for the inclusion of certain types of neurons, to observe how it affects the brain as a whole. The work is described in the January issue of Neuron.
Lee, who was studying to be an engineer-electrician, before devoting himself to medicine, wanted to find a way to probe the "failure" of the brain, just as engineers troubleshoot electronics. "The engineers figure out how individual components affect the overall scheme," - says Lee.
In the short term it will improve the method of treatment of Parkinson's disease. In the long term - it will provide a methodology to identify, compare and restore neural circuits associated with other diseases of the brain.
Lee's approach combines two experimental instrument with calculation. The first experimental tool - optogenetics, altering specific types of neurons, that they turn on in response to a light stimulus. The second experimental tool - functional MRI, or fMRI, which measures blood flow in the brain. Using optogenetics to include certain types of neurons and fMRI to observe the response of other brain areas, Lee has used computational analysis to display the specific neural circuits and determine its function.
The hallmark of Parkinson's disease is uncontrollable tremors. Neurologists believe that these muscle vibrations caused malfunction of nerve pathways that control movement. Before Lee technique, researchers did not know how to activate a specific type of neuron.
Through experiments on rats, Lee probed two different types of neurons involved in Parkinson's disease. It has been found that one type of activated pathway responsible for tremor, whereas the other signal is activated for a smaller amount of movement. Lee developed computational approach to image neuronal functioning diagram.
Lee believes that the conclusions of the article, will help improve the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Neurosurgeons have been using a technique called deep brain stimulation, to reduce tremor in patients. It provides a tiny electrical shocks neurons. A more accurate idea of how they work, help monitor and control the movement of the stimulation.