New technologies are allowing us to explore the brain as never before. We are entering a new era in neuroscience where our knowledge of the brain is beginning to match the urgent need to prevent and treat diseases of the brain.

New kinds of brain cells revealed

Under a microscope, it can be hard to tell the difference between any two neurons, the brain cells that store and process information. So scientists have turned to molecular methods to try to identify groups of neurons with different functions. Professor and HHMI Investigator Joseph Ecker, Senior Staff Scientist Margarita Behrens, Research Associate Chongyuan Luo and collaborators have, for the first time, profiled chemical modifications of DNA molecules in individual neurons, giving the most detailed information yet on what makes one brain cell different from its neighbor. The work appeared in Science on August 10, 2017.

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