What a thought looks like
February 1, 2013 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Researchers at Japan's National Institute of Genetics have succeeded in imaging neuronal activity in a fish's brain. They showed a genetically modified (to enable easier imaging) fish some food and "correlate[d] neuronal activity in the brain with prey capture behavior." The video is short but cool. (A link to the study abstract in Current Biology)
posted by Sleeper (14 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
So not a dead salmon this time?
posted by figurant at 12:56 PM on February 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Step two: upload the lobsters!
posted by Slackermagee at 1:06 PM on February 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Meanwhile, here's what the whale was thinking.
posted by run"monty at 1:10 PM on February 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's like I've always suspected: thoughts look kind of like lightning storms.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:34 PM on February 1, 2013

~'O_O'~ o (what, no pizza?)
posted by not_on_display at 1:37 PM on February 1, 2013

A team at Harvard has been using the same GCaMP technique to study neural activity in zebrafish, but they took it one step weirder—they fed the motor activity of the fish back through a computer to actively change the display the fish was seeing, so that the fish thought it was actually swimming. Nature compares their apparatus to a fish version of The Matrix.

What weird times we live in.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:06 PM on February 1, 2013 [13 favorites]

Wow that is amazing. I guess it fits the animations we've seen before so doesn't seem amazing, but this is the real thing. You can see why the brain is plastic, if certain paths keep lighting up all the time they sort of grow in dimension and strength compared to others.
posted by stbalbach at 2:32 PM on February 1, 2013

Ooh! A castle!
*swim swim swim*
Ooh! A castle!
posted by hypersloth at 3:36 PM on February 1, 2013

Holy cow that's awesome, dephlogisticated. Thanks.
posted by Sleeper at 4:22 PM on February 1, 2013

dephlogisticated: A team at Harvard...

Just wanna go on record to say Florian Engert is one of the coolest profs at Harvard, and a friendly, funny guy as well. He's what Ford Prefect would call a real hoopy frood.
posted by not_on_display at 6:09 PM on February 1, 2013

Aw, c'mon Nature, why you gotta make me feel bad for little Danio rerio? Poor fishie, thinks he's swimmin' *sniffle*
posted by maryr at 6:46 PM on February 1, 2013

You eat the red flake you stay in Wonderland and find out how deep the fishbowl goes...
posted by nathancaswell at 5:12 AM on February 2, 2013

I'm not sure this is what a thought looks like much more than the way a blush is what embarrassment looks like.
posted by zittrain at 5:46 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I guess it's probably more accurate to say this is what the underlying mechanisms of thought look like in action.

The Blush analogy doesn't hold because you can be embarrassed without blushing, but the fish can't think without its brain doing this.

What's neat to me is how quickly the various regions involved are activated--whole regions light up all at once. Activation across the different regions of the brain involved seems to occur near-simultaneously.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:53 AM on February 5, 2013

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