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Study of dragonfly prey detection at MBL wins PNAS Cozzarelli Prize
Date:3/14/2013

tion vector form.

In 1988, co-author Apostolos Georgopoulos and his colleagues showed in monkeys that from the activity of neurons in the motor cortex, the population vector algorithm can predict the monkey's upcoming arm movement. However, to achieve a more accurate prediction with this algorithm, upwards of 200 neurons were needed. Thus, the present discovery that a highly accurate neural code carrying information about target direction can be achieved with just 16 neurons is enlightening, and could have applications in the development of bioinspired robots. (Georgopolos is an MD-PhD at the University of Minnesota/Veterans Administration Medical Center who is interested in the development of prosthetics.)

Randy Schekman, PhD, editor-in-chief of PNAS, describes the papers chosen for the Cozzarelli Prize as being "of exceptional interest These papers are not merely technically superior but have had special impact and maybe novel techniques or novel applications of techniques, or very important discoveries."

To measure the voltage change in the dragonfly neurons, Gonzalez-Bellido used a classical technique called intracellular recording, which was originally developed by Kenneth S. (Kacy) Cole at the MBL and others. This technique, she says, provided very clear, high-quality data in the dragonfly, which she sees as a promising model for understanding the evolution of neural systems. "It's exciting that the same computation [the population vector algorithm] is used by monkeys and dragonflies for this task. Dragonflies belong to the most ancient groups of flying insects on earth, and they have changed little in 250 million years" she says.


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Contact: Diana Kenney
dkenney@mbl.edu
508-289-7139
Marine Biological Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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