York Science & Innovation Grand Tour May - Sept 2012

Sponsored by Aviva

45 Newgate Market

Did you know?

Neurobiologists at the University of York use fruit flies and cultured brain cells to study learning and dementia.

Calcium isn’t just good for healthy teeth and bones, it’s also an important signalling molecule in the brain. The picture shows calcium in cultured neurons, with warmer colours indicating high calcium. When we learn, calcium levels rise, telling neurons to strengthen connections with their neighbours and thus encode memories.

This exhibit is just one example of the breadth of research carried out within the Department of Biology at the University of York. For more examples please see the links under ‘Other Exhibits from this Sponsor’

The thriving community of Neuroscience researchers in the Department of Biology at the University of York work on fundamental processes in the healthy and diseased brain, including development, learning and memory and neurodegeneration.

Dr Gareth Evans and Dr Will Brackenbury use cultured neurons to study the formation of neuronal connections during brain development, which is also relevant for processes occurring during learning.

Dr Sean Sweeney and Dr Chris Elliott use the fruit fly, Drosophila Melanogaster to study neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons and Lysosomal Storage Disease. Genetic mutations that cause disease in humans surprisingly give similar symptoms in the fruit fly, making it easier to discover the basis of diseases. Image 2 above shows nerve-muscle connections in the fruit fly that can be used to study the movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Sangeeta Chawla is taking advantage of the powerful genetics of the fruit fly to investigate ‘circadian rhythms’, the control of our sleep-wake cycle. Image 3 shows an actogram, depicting the activity of fruit flies during cycles of day-night or night-night. Black lines represent fly movement. In complete darkness, the 24 h sleep-wake cycle is maintained but is no longer synchronised over subsequent cycles.

Reproduction in any form of any of the images on this website is strictly prohibited.

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