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The Art in Science

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Rafi Kohen, Graduate Student Neuroscience (Giger Laboratory), University of Michigan Medical School

This image shows a piece of embryonic mouse brain tissue in culture, embedded in a three-dimensional matrix that supports growth. This explant is from the hippocampus, the brain center responsible for learning and memory formation. Cultured cells survey their microenvironment via cellular extensions (red) and migrate their whole cell bodies (yellow) over long distances. Whereas this process plays a role in normal development and function in wildtype (healthy) mice (and humans), various genetic mutations can impede or halt this process. In fact, a lot of the mutations that disrupt this type of cell behavior are correlated with mental disorders such as bi-polar disorder and/or schizophrenia.