Curious Minds: How Can We See Living Nerve Cells in Action?

If you could see the brain at work in a living creature — track electrical pulses rippling through the nervous system as nerve cells communicate with each other — imagine what you could discover about the biology’s most fundamental processes. For postdoctoral research scientist Wenze Li, PhD and graduate student Rebecca Vaadia, this is not a dream, but reality. These two young researchers — one an engineer, the other a neuroscientist — recently teamed up to examine how neurons in crawling worms flash and fire. Using a super-fast 3D microscope called SCAPE, developed in Elizabeth Hillman’s at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, they are making it possible for all of us to see the living brain and body in a new light.

Wenze Li, PhD, is a postdoctoral research scientist in the Hillman lab at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute.

Rebecca Vaadia is a doctoral candidate in the Grueber lab at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute.

— Anne Holden. This video is part of Curious Minds, a video series highlighting students and early-career scientists at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute.

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