- Sensors developed by
scientists detect neurotransmitters in the brain.
- They can
be used to identify processes involved in thoughts and addiction.
are first sensors that detect neuropeptides which are a subset of
A fascinating insight
into how our thoughts are processed and the signals that are transmitted during
addiction have been highlighted in a study by Paul A. Slesinger and colleagues.
The experiment is based on Ivan Pavlov's classical conditioning experiment.
‘CNiFER provides access to imaging of thoughts in the brain.’
Ivan Pavlov, a Russian
physiologist was a pioneer in conducting experiments on classical conditioning.
The conditioning experiment did not start in a laboratory like all other
experiments, instead, the idea struck at home when Pavlov noticed that his dogs
began to salivate as soon as he entered the house. The response from his dog
was the same whether he entered with food or without.
Dogs were 'hard-wired'
to salivate whenever they saw food, this wasn't something that was taught. It
was a natural stimulus.
Measuring the Conditional
Pavlov measured the
amount of saliva that the dog secreted when it was shown food. During this
experiment, Pavlov realized that certain things or action that the dogs began
to associate with food and which triggered the same response of salivating. In
this case, it was the lab assistant who served food every day.
Pavlov as a next step
used a bell as a neutral stimulus, which is a situation or an object that did
not invoke a response. Whenever food was given to the dog, a bell would ring.
At exactly the same time every day, a bell would ring and then food would be
brought in. Soon, immediately after the bell rang, the dogs would begin to
salivate, even before the food was brought in. This was called classical
conditioning when a neutral stimulus began to involve a reaction similar to a
Ivan Pavlov's experiment
not only depicts classical conditioning, but further studies could provide
insights into addiction.
Scientists have now
developed a new technique that allows them to see what goes on in the brain
when the classic conditioning experiment is conducted. Dr. Paul A. Slesinger
adds "We developed cell-based detectors called CNiFERs that can be implanted in
a mouse brain and sense the release of specific neurotransmitters in real time."
CNiFER or Cell-based
Neurotransmitter Fluorescent Engineered Reporters are detectors that emit light
which can be detected using a two photon microscope. This technology allows
differentiation between epinephrine and norepinephrine.
The researchers played a
specific tune to mice and then rewarded them with sugar. After a few days, the
mice began to lick their lips after the tune was played and even before the
treat was provided.
The CNiFER was used to
determine the time at which there was a surge in dopamine. Initially dopamine
levels peaked after the reward was provided while after a few days it peaked
after the tune was played and even before the reward was provided.
The biosensors are a
first of their kind and Slesinger and colleagues will be presenting the results
they obtained using this technique at the 252nd National Meeting &
Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
The technique developed
by these researchers can be used to detect neuro-modulators to understand the
rate of neuron firing.
- It can be used to understand how the brain
responds to various stimulus
- It can be used to detect
conditions that affect the brain.
- It will aid in
determining the pathways that are followed during addiction.
will prove useful in determining if de-addiction programs have
There are plenty of uses
for this sensor that can be harnessed to understand the various complexities of
thoughts and their processes to the benefit of mankind.
- Pavlov's Dogs - (http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html)