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6 INSIDE SALK

SPRING 2017

WWW.SALK.EDU

BUILDING A BETTER BRAIN

Fluorescent cross-section of a cerebral organoid or “mini-brain.”

Credit: Madeline Lancaster/MRC-LMB

(Medical Research Council, Laboratory of Molecular Biology), UK

DISCOVERIES

NEUROSCIENCE

Every night while you sleep, electrical

waves of brain activity circle around each

side of your brain, tracing a pattern that,

were it on the surface of your head, might

look like the twin hair buns of Star Wars’

Princess Leia. Salk Professor Terrence

Sejnowski, first author Lyle Muller

and colleagues, who discovered these

circular “Princess Leia” oscillations,

think the waves are responsible each

night for forming associations between

different aspects of the day’s memories.

The findings were described in the

journal

eLife

on November 15, 2016.

“PRINCESS LEIA”

BRAINWAVES

HELP SLEEPING

BRAIN STORE

MEMORIES

When you build models, whether

ships or cars, you want them to be

as much like the real deal as possible.

This quality is even more crucial

for building model organs, because

disease treatments developed from

these models have to be safe and

effective for humans. Salk Professor

Joseph Ecker, first author Chongyuan

Luo and European collaborators have

studied a 3D “mini-brain” grown from

human stem cells and found it to

be structurally and functionally

more similar to real brains than

the 2Dmodels in widespread use.

The discovery, appearing in the

December 20, 2016, issue of

Cell

Reports

, indicates that the new

model could better help scientists

understand brain development as

well as neurological diseases like

Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia.

http://www.salk.edu/ insidesalk/0417/sejnowski

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