Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Inside Paul Allen's Quest To Reverse Engineer The Brain - Forbes


Behind a black curtain in a small room a titanium sapphire laser is prepared to fire at a tiny and very surprising target: a half-centimeter glass window surgically implanted into the skull of a live mouse. If all goes right the laser will fire for a quadrillionth of a second while the mouse runs on a white, treadmill-like ball and watches a computer screen. Thanks to special dyes, certain brain cells will glow green if the mouse is using them, their image captured by cameras capable of detecting a single photon.

The point to all this Star Trek style technology could not be more profound. That tiny tangle of tissue in the mouse’s skull turns nerve impulses from the rodent’s eyes into an interaction. Decoding that process would give scientists the first true window into how a mammalian brain experiences the world.