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The Art in Science

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Xiaofeng Zhao, Ph.D., Research Investigator (Giger Laboratory), Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School

Located deep within the brain is a structure called the hippocampus (“sea horse”) with essential roles in learning and memory.  A unique feature of the hippocampus is the life-long production of new neurons in a specialized region called the dentate gyrus.  This is a mirrored image of the mouse dentate gyrus. Cell bodies of newly born neurons are labeled in turquoise and cell bodies of mature neurons are labeled in blue. As neurons mature, they start to form highly branched cellular extensions, called dendrites, and they are labeled in green.  Defects in hippocampal development may lead to psychiatric illness. The Giger laboratory is studying hippocampal development to gain insights into how developmental defects can cause psychiatric disease.