To the Max

Researchers at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience in Jupiter have one thing on the brain—the brain itself. The team is coming closer to unlocking neurological mysteries thanks to research grants that focus on two crucial senses: sound and sight.

Dr. David Fitzpatrick, scientific director and CEO at Max Planck Florida

   Dr. Samuel Young Jr. recently received a $2.4 million grant to investigate the mechanics behind auditory information processing. The five-year study, funded by the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, will attempt to uncover the mechanisms that make hearing possible, which, as Young notes in a statement, “will have tremendous potential as therapies for hearing and communication disorders.”

   Dr. David Fitzpatrick, the scientific director and CEO at Max Planck Florida, has also received $2.4 million, but his study will focus on the neural circuits in the area of the cerebral cortex that processes visual information. With money provided by the National Eye Institute, Fitzpatrick hopes to better understand cortical function and development as well as contribute insights into how to address disorders that impact visual processing.

   From studies in their infancy to realized scientific advancements, scientists at Max Planck Florida and at Kanazawa University in Japan have developed atomic force microscopy, which allows for the imaging of living neurons. One doesn’t need to fully understand the science behind this new tool—or even how to pronounce the name properly—to comprehend the scientific impact it will have. By capturing cellular events and structural dynamics, atomic force microscopy will provide insight into the mechanics of the neuron and, most importantly, how new memories are formed and stored.

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