Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

See-Through Mice Brain

Matthew Bettino                                                                                                        4/13/13
Biology Davies C
New technique gives see-through view into mouse brains

            I read an article that told of a new method scientists have discovered in the observation of the brains of mice. The new method is based around removing light-blocking fat molecules that surround the brains of mice. This new method allows scientists observe the brains circuitry in entirety. Before this new method was discovered, scientists had a surprisingly difficult time observing the brains of the mice they conducted tests on. Usually, a full or thin slice of brain is observed under a light microscope by researchers. However, the lipids in the brain scatter the light penetrating them, causing an unclear image. To overcome this blockage, Karl Deisseroth invented a new way to observe thin brain samples. First, the brain samples are soaked in a cocktail. When heated, the plastic-like substance stuck to everything except the fats in the brain. Once separated, the lipids are drained out. This leaves a clear, transparent brain. However, all of the important parts of the brain are left intact. This entire process is called CLARITY. Scientists are excited because they will be able to map out the entire long-distance connections of the brain. Also, scientists are hopeful that they will be able to use this method on other organs of test subjects. However, they are a bit concerned with the use of Clarity on other organs because lipids play more important roles in these organs.
            This breakthrough in the observation of mice shows obvious importance towards science. This ability to remove the light-blocking lipids from the samples of the brains of mice allows scientists to make more detailed and accurate observations in their work. The clearer brain image will also allow scientists to map out an image of how the inner circuitry of the brain of an animal functions. Even though this aspect is very interesting, there is a more important and broad importance of Clarity. Mice are used in many lab tests. These tests include the study of vaccinations, medications and other cures for high profile diseases in our society. Like Mrs. Davies told us in class, she and her lab partners use rats and mice in their studies of cancer. These mice are under close observation, and are the sole data of many of these tests. Scientists believe that they may be able to use Clarity or other similar methods to clarify the image of other organs in mice under a microscope. If these organs were able to be viewed more precisely, the tests of life saving medications and vaccinations could see improved accuracy. Improved accuracy only leads to better data. Better data leads to better end results. If the idea of Clarity could be applied to other lab tests on mice, scientists could improve the disease preventing and curing medications already in existence. Also, there is a possibility of some kind of cure being found.
            I thought this article was very well written. The author got to the point right off the bat, explaining how Clarity works and how it is important to the scientific world. However, there are two things that I believe the author could have added to make this article even better. First, I would have liked to know a bit more about the direct and specific impact of Clarity. The author did say it would help scientists map out a better circuitry image of the brain of a mouse but why is that important? Also, I would have liked to know a bit more background about the topic at hand. The author gave the reader no idea of what a pre-Clarity brain sample would have looked like. This would have enhanced the readers understanding of why Clarity is so important to science. However, with these two comments aside, I did find the article to be both informative and interesting. The article really showed me how such small breakthroughs in science can have such a profound influence on our society.

"New Technique Gives See-through View into Mouse Brains | Genes & Cells | Science News." New Technique Gives See-through View into Mouse Brains | Genes & Cells | Science News. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2013. <>.


  1. I thought overall you did a good job of summarizing the article. You explained what clarity was, who developed it and why and how they developed it. You also did a good job at connecting the article to society and explaining why it was important. You gave an example of how common mice are for experiments in labs, and pointed out being open to observe their brain better opens up new possibilities in the field of research. Lastly, you gave a good analysis and critique of the article.
    I learned from your summary that lipids block the brain and reflect light, making it hard to observe. I was unaware this was a problem. I think it’s cool that scientists will be able to apply clarity to other organs to better study them. It is surprising that after all these years we can still find out new things about the brain that surprise us. Perhaps we can learn more about ourselves by using the clarity process on a human brain.
    I think your review could have been even better if you had better described the process of clarity, but maybe the article did a bad job at explaining it and it wasn't your fault. You also said Clarity could lead to new vaccinations or medicines, but didn't explain how, but again that could have been a fault in the article. Overall you did a good job.

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  3. The first thing I noticed when reading your article summary was your sense of voice. You started your summary off with I and I liked how you created a voice for yourself throughout the summary. I think that this voice also led to a good analysis and critique of the article which was also interesting to read. Lastly I thought that in summary you did a great job at presenting the problem and explaining the solution.

    The one thing I think you could've worked on is I believe that if you have a critique on an article you should do something about it. You asked the author a couple questions in your critique paragraph, but you didn't address them and that left us just as confused as you were for that part.

  4. I thought Matt did a great job with his essay. From reading it, I really enjoyed and thought he did a great job summarizing it. I really got a good sense of what he read about and really seemed he had a good feel for the article. Second, I thought he had great transitions within the essay and between paragraphs and all seemed really smooth and felt comfortable. Third, from reading his essay, it really seemed like he understood and knew what the article was talking about.
    I was really impressed that with this new method scientists can now observe the brains circuitry in entirety and before, scientists really had a trouble time observing and studying the brains of the mice. I was also impressed by that the scientists believe and are excited about that they will be able to map out the entire long-distance connections of the brain.
    Overall I thought matt did a great job with his essay. The only thing I thought he could have worked on his how he began his essay. It was anything special and it did not really grab my attention. But everything after that was great.