Researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the University of Salento, both in Lecce, Italy, and Harvard Medical School in Boston have developed a new light-based method to capture and pinpoint the epicenter of neural activity in the brain. (...) The researchers inserted the light-sensing probe inside the striatum, a region of the brain involved in planning movements, and used it to track the release of dopamine, a critical neurotransmitter involved in motor control which also plays a key role in the development of disorders like Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and depression.
The device successfully captured neural activity in specific sub-regions of the striatum involved in the release of dopamine during specific behaviours.
The approach has effectively allowed scientists to capture how nerve signals travel in time and space and to gauge the concentration of specific neurotransmitters during specific actions. The method enriches researchers’ methodological repertoire and augments their ability to study the central nervous system and probe the molecular causes of neurological disorders.