What am I looking at? A ‘U’-shaped Mystery

Portuguese Version


The images created during the daily scientific and medical endeavours at the Champalimaud Foundation can be as beautiful and compelling as any work of art. To the untrained eye, these images might also appear baffling, but, if you know what you’re looking at, they may just reveal information that can spark discoveries, contribute to the improvement of patient quality of life and maybe even alter our understanding of reality.

Through a combination of images, sound and text, each edition of this series asks Champalimaud Foundation researchers and clinicians to consider images from their own work, decoding these complex visuals and deepening our understanding of their work through this simple question: “What am I looking at?”

An ethereal image created collaboratively by the Neural Circuits and Behavior Lab and Vision to Action Lab at Champalimaud Research, alongside the Ruben Portugues Lab (at TUM, Munich), working out this third edition of “What am I looking at?” might keep you busy for hours! If you want to find out more about this image, the paper it featured in can be found here in the Journal of Neuroscience.

“What could be a psychedelic rendition of a stethoscope actually shows both halves of the tropical zebrafish brain. Thanks to the tiny size and natural transparency of baby zebrafish, we can see activity in the whole brain during behaviour. Despite their simpler structure, their brains also share many similarities to ours.

At the bottom of the image, coloured beads represent distinct cell types in a region known as the inferior olive. Look closely, and you can see that each cell sends a long wire that crisscrosses to the opposite side of the cerebellar cortex, a brain region above, which is also involved in motor coordination.

The clouds of green and purple, on the other hand, show areas of brain activity in response to movement: green for leftward motion, and purple for rightward. Look closer still, and you can see that the cells, and the tips of their wires, mostly overlap with clouds of the same colour. Images such as these show how the brain’s function is directly linked to its structure—and how its highways and byways define the flow of information from one area to another”.

Original Idea: John Lee
Concept Development & Curation: António Monteiro, Carla Emilie Pereira, Catarina Ramos, Diana Cadete, Hedi Young, João Van Zelst, John Lee, Marta Correia and Teresa Fernandes
Source (Text): Michael Orger (Vision to Action Lab) and Rita Félix (Neural Circuits and Behavior Lab & Vision to Action Lab) Source (Image): Rita Félix (Neural Circuits and Behavior Lab & Vision to Action Lab) and Daniil Markov (Ruben Portugues Lab)
Script: Hedi Young and John Lee
Design: Carla Emilie Pereira
Narration: Hedi Young and Marta Correia
Sound: João Van Zelst
Translation: Catarina Ramos
Dissemination: Diana Cadete

Loading Likes...