Pinterest • The world’s catalog of ideas
the Guardianfrom the Guardian

Art of science: extremely small, incredibly close

Surface of the Human Brain

Neuromuscular synapse. The acetylcholine-laden vesicles are carrying and releasing the neurotransmitter into the synaptic cleft. A few of the acetylcholine molecules bind to receptors on the muscle cell. The cleft itself is packed with many elongated proteins including laminin, collagen, perlecan and flower-like acetylcholinesterase molecules serving to render inactive the neurotransmitter. Courtesy of David Goodsell.

These neurons were grown in a special chamber that separates axons from dendrites. The axons (red) have grown while the dendrites (green or light blue) stay behind. This is part of work that will help us understand changes in the aging brain. Photo credit: Pamela J. Yao, Laboratory of Neurosciences, #NIA

nanoflowers seeded from nano-sized particles of metals that grow, or self assemble, in a natural process. Eye surgeons would implant these fractal devices within the eyes of blind patients, providing interface circuitry that would collect light captured by the retina and guide it with almost 100 percent efficiency to neurons for relay to the optic nerve to process vision.

Nerve cells. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of nerve cells, known as neurones. Nerve cells occur in the brain, spinal cord, and in ganglia. Each nerve cell has a large cell body (brown) with several long processes extending from it. The processes usually consist of one thicker axon and several thinner branched dendrites. The dendrites collect information in the form of nerve impulses from other nerve cells and pass it to the cell body.

At a synapse an electrical signal is transmitted from one cell to the next in only one direction. The nerve cells are green, with the pre-synaptic cell at lower right and the post-synaptic cell at upper left. Mitochondria are purple. Neurotransmitter chemicals from vesicles are red. Magnification 50,000x. Image by Science photo library.