Although we need sleep to survive and spend a significant portion of our lives sleeping, we actually know very little about why sleep is important or how it is regulated in the brain. Scientists use the humble fruit fly to answer some of these questions, in the hopes of eventually understanding human sleep and even treating human sleep disorders.
Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, from the molecular and electrical properties of individual nerve cells, to the complex neural circuits and networks that generate behavior, learning, and cognition. It is one of the most interdisciplinary sciences which bridges together biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, medicine, philosophy, psychology, and physics. By delving into the complex underpinnings of normal nervous system function, as well as its diseased state, the opportunities to conduct research in this field are endless - much like our brain’s ability to think.
Ever wish pain could go away with the press of a button? Stanford scientists used optogenetics to explore the brain's pain circuit and with the switch of a light, they were able to specifically activate nociceptors, sensory nerve cells, to reduce (or induce) pain!