Mining the Mind: In Search of Exotic Elements in the Brain

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Submitted by Miquel Bosch and Zhen Huang of the Bear Lab at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory

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Miquel Bosch and Zhen Huang
Bear Lab, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
Two-Photon Micrograph

"This is a two-photon microscopy image of a live mouse hippocampal slice stained with a fluorescent sensor for zinc. The color code shows the intensity of fluorescence and thus the concentration of zinc.  The sensor detects a high concentration of this element in the Dentate Gyrus region, known for its implications in neurogenesis and memory. The role of zinc in neuronal transmission and the reason for this especial localization is largely unknown.

We wanted to measure the concentration of zinc in the hippocampus and compare normal mouse tissue with mouse tissue from a model of Fragile X syndrome, the most abundant inherited form of autism. Zinc has been shown to be decreased in blood samples of patients but it is not known if brain levels are altered."