Artist Marta Santuccio is interested in the branching structure of a neuron, the way brain cells extend their dendrites and axons great distances in the brain to communicate with other cells.
Computational neuroscientist Eleftheria Pissadaki talked with Marta about her computer-based modelling of the dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra; a population of cells that dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease. While we know these cells die, it is still not certain why they are vulnerable in the disease, and why this occurs in some people and not others.
This type of branching or arbourisation, which often has a biological function, is apparent in many different situations, from river deltas to tree canopies, and Marta wants to explore this in her art.
Dopamine neuron axonal reconstructions are shown to the left. Learn more about the camera lucida technique, have a look at Matsuda et al, 2009, or see the Neuron simulation environment that Eleftheria used by visiting these links.