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From brains to behavior: Cold Spring Harbor Protocols features methods for neuroscience research

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (Mon., Oct. 1, 2007) Research in the field of neuroscience is constantly expanding to provide knowledge about biological mechanisms that underlie our ability to experience and interact with the world around us. To facilitate such research, two neuroscience methods are featured in this months release of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols. Both are freely accessible online ( and include movie clips that help to illustrate the procedures.

The first protocol, available at, describes a step-by-step approach to prepare brain slices from rats or mice for growth in culture. Brain slice cultures, which are easy to prepare and maintain for several weeks or even months in the lab, allow researchers to examine the structure and function of neurons in their native environment.

The brain slice culture protocol was contributed by Dr. Michael Daileys group from the University of Iowa ( His lab uses brain slice cultures in conjunction with high-resolution imaging and staining techniques to investigate changes that occur during the development of the central nervous system, as well as changes that occur after injury to the nervous system. Brain slice cultures can also be used to test the effects of various drugs or genetic backgrounds on brain function.

The second featured protocol is from Dr. Leslie Griffiths lab at Brandeis University ( It describes how to properly assess courtship behavior in male fruit flies. Because the behavior of male fruit flies is dependent on many environmental stimuli, it is important to measure courtship behavior under highly controlled conditions. Griffiths protocol describes how to control visual input, for example, by manipulating the light conditions under which the experiment takes place.

Griffiths protocol, freely available at, also describes how to assemble a courtship chamber and discusses strategies for observing and measuring courtship behavior. It can be used to evaluate the effects of prior experience and genetic background on courtship, and will be useful to researchers who are interested in understanding the biological basis of behavior.


Contact: Maria Smit
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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