- Jul 8, 2003
How to read a jellyfish's mind
The human brain has 100 billion neurons, making 100 trillion connections. Understanding the precise circuits of brain cells that orchestrate all of our day-to-day behaviors—such as moving our limbs, responding to fear and other emotions, and so on—is an incredibly complex puzzle for neuroscientists. But now, fundamental questions about the neuroscience of behavior may be answered through a new and much simpler model organism: tiny jellyfish.
Caltech researchers have now developed a kind of genetic toolbox tailored for tinkering with Clytia hemisphaerica, a type of jellyfish about 1 centimeter in diameter when fully grown. Using this toolkit, the tiny creatures have been genetically modified so that their neurons individually glow with fluorescent light when activated.