When we form a new memory, how is it stored in our brains? For finding answers to this question, CSHL neuroscientist Karel Svoboda has been selected by Popular Science magazine as one of its "Brilliant Ten" young scientists in the U.S. for 2004.
Svoboda (see http://www.cshl.edu/public/SCIENCE/svoboda.html ) has pioneered an imaging method for observing single brain cells and even the tiny connections between such cells called synapses. By creating a microscope powerful enough to image individual synapses (one-billionth the size of a grain of rice) in living animals, Svoboda has witnessed mouse brain neurons sprouting new branches in response to unfamiliar tasks, and seen new synapses form on the branches. Svoboda's work overturns the mainstream view that brain circuitry is largely fixed early in life, and may lead to methods of repairing the memory-formation system in Alzheimer's patients and others.