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Brain to Behaviours

Understanding how single neurons play distinct roles in different behaviours

24 May 2021

Brain to Behaviours

Whether big or small, animal brains are made from nerve cells (neurons) wired together in circuits. Some circuits are highly specialised, controlling one specific behaviour in response to a particular stimulus. Others are much more complex, compiling lots of different types of information from the senses and triggering a range of actions. To find out more about how this works in a simple system, researchers have been studying the nervous system in leeches using a combination of highly sensitive methods for visualising nerve cells and measuring their activity. This image shows the individual nerve cells in a cluster known as a ganglion, with different colours highlighting various activity patterns during different behaviours such as swimming, crawling or escaping from danger. This technique enables researchers to analyse the inputs and outputs from single neurons, leading to deeper understanding of how they are wired together to create circuits and generate specific actions.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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