Sun. Sep 24th, 2023
    A New Window into Brain-Controlled Movement: Insights from Zebrafish

    A recent study conducted at the Champalimaud Foundation has shed light on how brains control movement by examining the neural choreography of zebrafish. The transparent bodies of zebrafish offer a unique opportunity to understand the intricacies of brain-controlled motion.

    The research revealed two primary brain circuits in zebrafish. One circuit is responsible for eye rotation, allowing the fish to keep a stable view of its environment. This circuit helps the fish adjust its eyes to maintain focus on objects that are spinning around in its surroundings. The second circuit is involved in body stabilization and eye vergence, enabling the zebrafish to maintain stability and steady its gaze while its body is in motion.

    The study employed a novel analytical approach in order to understand how these brain circuits work. By examining the overall activity of a population of neurons in the hindbrain of the zebrafish, the researchers were able to identify specific patterns of activity that corresponded to different types of movements.

    This research has significant implications for understanding neurological disorders and applications in robotics. By studying the neural control of movement in zebrafish, researchers hope to gain insights into how the human brain controls motion. Furthermore, these findings could inform the development of robotic designs that mimic the brain’s ability to control movement.

    The power of zebrafish as a model organism for neuroscience research cannot be underestimated. Their transparent bodies allow researchers to directly observe the inner workings of the brain, providing valuable insights into brain function. Eye movement is a behavior that is conserved across species, making zebrafish an ideal model for studying how the brain controls motion.

    This study employed a statistical method known as linear regression to examine the relationship between neuronal activity and behavioral variables. However, the researchers quickly realized that understanding the activity of individual neurons was not enough to gain a comprehensive understanding of how the brain coordinates movement. To overcome this challenge, the researchers incorporated a dimensionality reduction step in their analysis to zoom out and understand the overall activity of the population of neurons.

    In conclusion, the study conducted with zebrafish elucidated the brain’s choreography of movement by identifying two primary brain circuits involved in eye rotation and body stabilization. This research has significant implications for understanding how the brain controls motion and could have applications in the field of robotics.

    Sources: Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown