I study the brain of a jumping animal that lives in the water and makes noise. I want to find out how it makes that noise. So I take out its brain and put the brain in a cup of sweet water that has air in it (so can eat and breathe). If I put in a kind of brain water and then listen very hard with a computer I can hear it trying to make the noise!
That is really cool, but I still don’t know how it’s making the noise. Other people have done things that help me understand. One person put dark water in the noise-making part of the animal to see where in the brain the pretend noise is coming from. This dark water went inside the brain cells that made the noise making part go. They put in more dark water, and saw that part they found liked to talk with a different part, which liked to talk to the first part at the same time.
(The brain is a very confusing place! Many parts talk to other parts and it’s hard to keep track of what they all are saying. For making pretend noise, it only needs these two parts. That makes studying this a lot easier!)
Cells in the second part talk and get quiet fast all at the same time (about as fast as air-lights go on and off). They do this in bursts, and are also able to all stop at the end of the burst at the same time. It sounds just like the pretend noise! But if we cut the brain between the two parts, it still tries to talk in bursts but it doesn’t sound like anything anymore. This tells us that to talk and get quiet at the same time, the second part needs to be able to hear the first part. But the second part doesn’t need to hear anything else to talk in bursts!
(I think it has gotten confused and the cells can’t talk at the same time because they don’t have the first part telling them when it’s fine to say stuff. The first part might be like one of those red and green lights that tell cars to stop and go, only it gets them all to go at the same time.)
The problem is, since cells in the second part also talk to each other, we don’t know who is telling them the things we see them hear. I am going to try to cut the brain in half while watching what cells in the second part are hearing. The stuff they stop hearing after I cut the brain in half will probably be the stuff the first part was telling them, and the stuff they keep hearing will be the stuff they’re telling themselves. If it works, it will answer both how they get quiet and loud really fast all at the same time AND how they all know when to end their burst!
The biggest problem is that I am running out of time to learn how to listen to the very small cells and write my final big paper for college, and I keep not doing these things because the computer has simple word boxes which are much more fun to write in than the big word boxes.
(Also, I have to kill the jumping animals in order to find out these things, and that makes me sad.)”