TED讲座:激光控制无头果蝇行为揭秘(组图)

2010年11月08日21:17  来源:译言
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  Ambitious researchers think they might be able to map the human brain in just five years, navigating the complex networks between neurons by using advanced images. An Austrian scientist has another idea: Work backward by manipulating neurons to figure out what they do. To accomplish this, Gero Miesenboeck and his grad students are engaging in optical mind control, implanting fruit flies with false memories and causing them to learn from mistakes they never made. They"re also continuing their pioneering research into flying decapitated fruit flies.
  雄心勃勃的研究人员认为,五年内他们就可以映射人类大脑,采用先进的图像导航神经元之间的复杂网络。 一位奥地利科学家还有另一个想法:反向操纵神经元弄清楚他们是怎么工作的。 要做到这一点,Gero Miesenboeck和他的研究生专注于研究光学精神控制 ,他们在果蝇中植入虚假记忆使他们从之前从来没有犯过的错误中积累经验。他们还继续进行果蝇斩首的开创性研究。

  In a newly released video from this year"s TED conference, Miesenboeck, a professor at Oxford, explains his pioneering work in the field of optogenetics, which involves genetically modifying nerve cells to react to light. Pulsing lasers at modified neurons mimics a brain impulse, allowing Miesenboeck and his colleagues to study what happens next.

  在今年的TED会议上,牛津大学的Miesenboeck教授,通过一则视频介绍他在光学基因领域做的开创性研究,它涉及到通过对神经细胞进行基因修饰使其对光信号作出反应。脉冲激光模拟大脑的神经冲动,这样Miesenboeck和他的同事可以研究接下来果蝇大脑中发生的事情。

  As he explains in the video below, the flies" neurons were modified to develop light-sensitive “pores,” which open when exposed to light. The opened pore allows electrical current to flow, and the neuron fires an electrical impulse. Others have used optogenetics to make fruit flies smell bananas when they see blue light, for instance.

  正如他在下面的视频解释说,果蝇的神经细胞被修改,开发出了光敏感的“毛孔”,它暴露于光线照射时会打开。电流会在打开的毛孔中流动,而神经细胞会发射一个个电脉冲。 比如有的人已经应用光学基因控制使果蝇看到蓝光时会产生香蕉的嗅觉。

  It even works with brainless flies — Miesenboeck"s former graduate student, Susana Lima, lopped off optogenetically modified flies" heads and stimulated the fly equivalent of the spinal cord with a laser pulse. The headless flies flew, meaning Miesenboeck and Lima were able to remotely control brainless flies by simulating a brain impulse.

  这个研究甚至在没有头的果蝇上也实现了 - Miesenboeck的前研究生,苏珊娜利马,砍掉了经过光学基因修改的苍蝇的头部,同时用激光脉冲刺激果蝇的脊髓。 无头苍蝇飞了,这意味着Miesenboeck和利马能够通过模拟大脑信号远程控制苍蝇。

  The headless fly research was first published five years ago, and since then, scientists have come a long way, Miesenboeck says — they can now interfere with the animals" psychology. His interpretation of psychology involves an “actor,” the brain"s decision-making center, and a “critic,” which continually provides commentary on the actor"s decisions.

  无头苍蝇的研究首次发表于五年前,自那以后,科学家们的研究经过了漫长的道路,Miesenboeck说 - 他们现在可以干扰动物的心理。 他的心理学解释涉及“演员”,大脑的决策中心,和一个“评论家”,不断对演员的决定提供评论。

  “You can think of this nagging inner voice as the brain"s equivalent of the Catholic Church, if you"re an Austrian like me ... or your mother, if you"re Jewish,” Miesenboeck says.

  “如果你是一个像我或者你的母亲一样是个奥地利人……,或者是犹太人,你可以认为大脑里的这些唠叨是天主教教会的声音,,“Miesenboeck说。

  Following this logic, Miesenboeck figures the cells that make up the “critic” are a key ingredient in intelligence. He figured if he could identify the critic cells and modify them, he could artificially nag the actor cell cluster into changing its behavior. So the fly should learn from mistakes that it thought it had made, which in reality it had not, he explains.

  按照这一逻辑,Miesenboeck指出,构成“评论家”的细胞是决定智商的重要因素。 他认为如果他能找出评论家细胞并修改它们,就可以人为地改变“行为”细胞团从而改变对象的行为。 因此,果蝇应该能从他认为的错误中学习飞行,尽管在现实中没有任何错误,他解释说。

  In one series of experiments, he caused a fruit fly to "remember" to avoid a certain smell as it flew around. Through various fly-behavior experiments, Miesenboeck narrowed down the critic center to a clump of just 12 cells. This knowledge can lead neurologists and psychologists to a much greater understanding of the physiological networks that drive behavior. Much more work remains to be done — for instance, no one has yet figured out how the critic cells actually work — but it"s exciting, promising work.

  在一项实验中,他使果蝇在周围飞的时候“记住”避免某些气味。通过各种飞行行为试验研究,Miesenboeck把“评论家”中心限定到一个只有12个细胞的细胞丛。这种知识可以使神经学家和心理学家对驱动行为的生理网有更深的了解。但还有许多工作有待完成 - 例如,还没有人能够弄明白评论家细胞实际上是如何工作的- 但这是令人兴奋,有前途的工作。

  “I find it exhilarating to see how vague psychological notions evaporate and give rise to a physical, mechanistic understanding of the mind — even if it"s the mind of a fly,” Miesenboeck says.

  “看着这些心理概念越来越清晰,我觉得特别兴奋,这些心理学的问题使人们对身体,心灵的理解越来越深刻,并可以进一步指导思维-哪怕它是一只苍蝇的思维”Miesenboeck说。

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