Eavesdropping on Brain Cells: A History of the Patch-Clamp Technique

Author: Ellen KW Brennan

Editors: Emily Glass, Sophie Hill, and Lisa Pinatti

Illustrator: Katherine Bonefas

Neurons are the main communicators of the brain. Using electrical signals to ‘talk,’ their conversations with each other underlie every behavior, thought, and feeling we have. To produce these larger functions, neurons need to work together in networks. For example, there is a specialized network of neurons whose only job is to keep you oriented in your surroundings. Two of the main types of neurons in this network are ‘place cells,’ which tell your brain where your body is in space, and ‘head direction cells,’ which tell your brain which way your head is facing. Together (and with the help of many other cells), they act as your body’s GPS system. While knowing where you are is important, you also need to know the details of the world around you. Other specialized cells, like sensory neurons called ‘blobs,’ help you detect color, while neurons in your nose called ‘olfactory sensory neurons’ catch chemicals as you breathe to detect smells. Together, these and many other different neural networks give us a sensory representation of our surroundings.

Continue reading “Eavesdropping on Brain Cells: A History of the Patch-Clamp Technique”

Happy 5th Birthday, MiSciWriters!

From the MiSciWriters Editorial Board

“MiSciWriters is a student organization dedicated to training in science writing, with the ultimate goal of improving public understanding of science. We believe that communicating science effectively to lay audiences is an essential and much-neglected component of scientific training.” Over the past five years, our mission statement and overall goals haven’t changed much, but our organization has grown significantly and has become an important foundation for so many during their graduate and postdoctoral experience at University of Michigan. 

Continue reading “Happy 5th Birthday, MiSciWriters!”