Illuminating Networks in the Brain

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Submitted by Carmen Varela of the Wilson Laboratory in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory

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Carmen Varela
Wilson Laboratory, Picower Institute
Light microscopy

"In this experiment we wanted to figure out the networks that connect brain regions critical for the formation and retention of memories. You can see here two groups of cells, in green and red, both of which form part of different brain networks. We used a green fluorescent molecule to tag cells connected with a brain region important for the acquisition and storage of memories for brief periods: the hippocampus. Instead, the red cells are connected to another brain region, the prefrontal cortex, which becomes gradually important for the recall of memories as this become older. You may notice that a few cells have an orange or yellowish tint. These orange colored cells connect both with the hippocampus and with the prefrontal cortex and, because of that, we think that they may be important for the transfer of mnemonic information between the short-term storage region (hippocampus) and the region responsible for long-term memory storage (prefrontal cortex)."