Sunday, January 30, 2011

Working hard for the money!

So this week has been a crazy one.  We've been getting the nursery done and washing lots of baby clothes (thank you family and friends!!).   On top of that, I've been working hard on a project that has been going on a long time at work.  Then it dawned on me.  I talk about work some, but very few actually know what I do.  I think it's time for a change.

So pictured below is one of the programs I use, to find dopamine transients.  I'm able to make a template when I find a marvelous DA transient (like the one below) and match it to other files.  That way the computer is able to find other transients in the files.  I then sort through those transients it finds, confirm that it is DA, and give a nA & noise reading for each transient.

Why is this important?  Well, DA is a great neurotransmitter.  It's essential for movement (Parkinson's patients- develop symptoms after about a 95% loss of DA cells/terminals) and it is deemed a reward neurotransmitter.  So whenever you do something rewarding, guess what? DA.  So why would we care about that...well, let me put it in terms of drugs of abuse.  Methamphetamine causes about 100 fold release of DA compared to a natural reward like eating.  However, after long term abuse...DA release becomes blunted and in some cases DA terminals are retracted. Even more interesting, this corresponds to other binge eating.  After long term consumption of a high fat diet, DA release is blunted and reward thresholds are higher, which means more food is needed to achieve the desired effect.

Now that you all have fallen asleep and think I'm the biggest nerd ever, I'll drop the subject and get back to posts that everyone really wants to see...all about my kids!!  I'm right aren't I?? Or am I one of those parents?  Ha ha.  ;)

So that green-blue dot, that's a DA transient as it is being released in the brain of a behaving animal.  The other graphs are harder to explain, but let me just say, it's a beautiful DA transient!

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