Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tiny Laser-scanning Microscope Images Brain Cells in Freely Moving Animals

Scientists in Germany have been able to place a new technology into the brains of rats. This laser-scanning microscope is small enough to study the complex working of how brain cells operate while the rats are still able to move around freely. Scientists are hoping to answer such questions as what our brains are doing while we are moving around using all of our senses. This new technology uses high-powered pulsing laser and fiber optics to scan the brain cells beneath the surface of the brain. This eliminates the need to use electrodes, thus being non-invasive to the brain. The microscope is showing scientists how many brain cells work together to do some normal activity. The hope is to understand how perception and attention work.

Strategy for Classroom
I love this article for Junior High School Students. I would present this as an opportunity for any of them to volunteer to try out some new technology. Then I would give them an overview of the experiment on rats and mention that researchers are ready for "HUMAN VOLUNTEERS." This age group is lots of fun to present things like this. My assignment would be for them to write a paragraph detailing what they think this microscope would pick up about their brain cells. (Hints: what is their learning style, perception of science, attention or focus on lessons, etc.)

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