Changyang Linghu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School
The hippocampus is a part of the brain that is important in memory, emotional response and spatial navigation. Its name derives from the Greek word “hippokampos” (hippo – horse; kampos – sea monster), so named because the shape of this region resembles a seahorse. Though it is thought that this brain region is critical for long term memory consolidation and storage, it is not clear how this works on a cellular level. We know that cells can respond to signals that they receive (input signal) by changing their intracellular chemistry, which in turn, changes cell behavior (output signal). But, until now, it has been difficult to “see” this input/output circuit. Our laboratory has engineered nano-sensors that can report neural activities in real-time during the memory formation process. In this image of a mouse hippocampus, memory-related neurons are highlighted in magenta, while green and yellow spots are the human-created nano-sensors, which 'light up' the memory-associated cellular activities, allowing scientists to actively study memory in health and disease.