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Intriguing tech detects brain cells’ off switches with precision.

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TLDR: Scientists at Scripps Research have developed a new technology that allows them to track when brain cells shut off after a burst of activity, known as inhibition. The researchers used optogenetics to study how brain cells changed when they were firing and when they were done firing. They found that a protein called pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) was rapidly changed immediately after brain cells were inhibited, and that shutting off PDH involves adding phosphates to the protein. The scientists used antibodies to measure levels of phosphorylated PDH (pPDH) in mice given anesthesia, and found that most of the brain became inactive. The researchers believe that this new technology could help identify what goes awry in brain conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The scientists at Scripps Research developed a new technology using optogenetics that allows them to track when brain cells shut off after a burst of activity, known as inhibition. They used this technique to study how brain cells changed when they went from firing to being done firing. They found that a protein called pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) was rapidly changed immediately after the brain cells were inhibited. Shutting off PDH involves adding phosphates to the protein. The researchers used antibodies to measure levels of phosphorylated PDH (pPDH) in mice that were given anesthesia and found that most of the brain became inactive. They believe that this technology could help identify what goes awry in brain conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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