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The Art in Science

Product Image Technicolor Thoughts

Technicolor Thoughts

Dawen Cai, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School

Approximately 71 million neurons inhabit an average mouse brain (about 100 billion in your brain). These neurons control learning, memory, bodily functions, and much more, by forming complex circuits using long cellular processes that touch other cells. This image shows some of the cell bodies (center) and the billions of cellular processes produced by these cells (periphery). To map these circuits, we use genetically engineered mouse models in which we express random ratios of blue, green and red fluorescent proteins in individual neurons. In this manner, the cellular processes belonging to each neuron are labeled by a unique color, allowing us to unambiguously trace their interactions with other cells and processes.