While we are talking about remarkable things to do with skulls here is another skull penetration exercise which is even more amazing. Very clever people at Stanford University have wired up this mouse so that the deepest parts of its brain are directly stimulated by light. “Viviana Gradinaru, a graduate student has designed a hybrid instrument called an ‘optrode’, which consists of fiber optics for photostimulation and an electrode for activity recording. By inserting an optrode precisely into a specific brain region, she can simultaneously photostimulate the area and measure electrical activity there.” The beauty of this tool is that it allows researchers to tickle and measure the brain while the mouse is live and scampering around. Whichever way you look at it this is quite an amazing achievement.
If you want to have a closer look at just what Viviana is up to you can see what they are doing to fool the mouse at Nature Methods 6, 319 (2009) doi:10.1038/nmeth0509-319
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