Friday, November 18, 2011

U.S. Federal Innovation 36: New Neurons for You After All 

Newly Born Neurons
In the early part of the 20th century, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, considered the father of modern neuroscience, declared the human nervous system fixed and incapable of regeneration. According to Cajal, no new neurons were ever born in adult humans.

This declaration stood as the dogma of neuroscience for nearly a century, when mounting evidence proved Cajal wrong.

In the "New Neurons for You After All" online laboratory to be released by Science Approach this winter, students explore how scientists came to understand that adult neurogenesis happens. First, learners work through a brief tutorial on the history of neurogenesis research and the methods used by scientists. Next, they are introduced to the experimental design employed to conduct an important experiment in the history of neurogenesis research. After that, they learn how to identify cells undergoing neurogenesis, collect data from real research images, and analyze the data with an online statistical research tool. Finally, students come to conclusions about the research they have conducted, propose an additional research hypothesis about neurogenesis that could be tested by a scientist, and write a brief essay about the societal implications of this research. Along the way, students receive feedback to help them understand and apply neurogenesis research.

The "New Neurons" e-lab was developed with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. For purchase information, visit Science Approach.

Sources: Wikipedia and Science Approach.

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