by Dr. Christine Jasoni - Senior Lecturer - University of Otago, Dept. of Anatomy
Have you ever stopped to ask, "what makes me unique?" Sure we all look different, but we also act differently, and think differently; different from anyone else on the planet, and almost certainly different from anyone who has ever lived. But how could this possibly happen? Our brains seem to lie at the heart of these differences, and in particular, the way our brains are wired. In fact, brain wiring is so complex that there is a near infinite number of different ways that individual brains can be wired; and thus, an infinite number of individuals. Put another way, each of us has a pattern of brain wiring that makes us uniquely who we are, and since no one else can ever have that same wiring, each of us will always be unique.
So if the ways we think, feel, and act are a consequence of how our brains are wired - that is, if wiring make us who we are - could abnormal brain wiring be at the root of abnormal behavior? Our research is focused on understanding how brains become wired during fetal life, and how changes in brain wiring can lead to behavioral differences such as eating disorders, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
"Axons get a kiss" is part of an experiment aimed at discovering how a particular class of brain cells, or neurons, make their connections, that is become wired, during fetal development. To me, its aesthetic beauty is a crystalline reflection of the powerful intellectual beauty of science.
My interest in Life Sciences was ignited at an early age by my 10th grade Biology teacher, Miss Taylor. Miss Taylor always had time for me; and for all of my curious classmates, irrespective of our teenage shortcomings. It was her unique ability to recognize - no matter how immature and unworked - our abilities, and our curiosities for Biology. And she kindled in us a talent and passion for science. The Dean of our school was always astounded when I would cut the entire day, but then show up for Biology. I owe my love of Biology and my success as a scientist almost unconditionally to my hero, Miss Taylor.- Dr. Christine Jasoni -