The Brain’s Light Show

IN the march-april 2012 issue, Erin O'Donnell writes about a new tool that shows neurons lighting up as they fire. Watch examples of this work, by Loeb associate professor of the natural sciences Adam Cohen, below.

Fluorescence from an HEK cell expressing Arch. The cell was subjected to steps in voltage from −100 mV to 100 mV at 1 Hz. The apparent voltage-sensitive pixels inside the cell are due to out-of-focus fluorescence from the upper and lower surfaces of the plasma membrane. Images are unmodified raw data. Movie is shown in real time.


Fluorescence from a rat hippocampal neuron expressing Arch, averaged over n = 98 action potentials. Note the delayed rise and fall of the action potential in the small protrusion coming from the process at 7 o'clock relative to the cell body. The time-averaged fluorescence from the cell has been subtracted to highlight the change in fluorescence during an action potential. The background, in gray, shows the time-averaged image.




You might also like

Kevin Young Named 2024 Harvard Arts Medalist

Museum director and poet to be honored April 24

How Air Pollution Affects Our Brains

An expert Harvard panel discusses the links between air pollution and dementia, learning, mental health, and mood.

Harvard Magazine March-April 2024 Scavenger Hunt

March-April 2024 Print Issue Scavenger Hunt

Most popular

Retreat and Recreate: Peddocks Island

This Boston Harbor island offers an urban oasis.

The “Bionic Leaf ”

Harvard scientists find a way to convert solar energy into a liquid fuel.

Net Effects

Janet Echelman’s urban sculptures take to the skies.

More to explore

Photograph of Winthrop Bell 1910

Winthrop Bell

Brief life of a philosopher and spy: 1884-1965

Illustration of people talking to each other with colorful thought bubbles above their heads

Talking about Talking

Fostering healthy disagreement

Vacationing with a Purpose

New England “summer camps” for adults