Mapping Neural Networks of Jellyfish-Like Creatures

Rice University  engineers are conducting comprehensive analysis of hydra to learn how they sense touch, a small step toward understanding neural networks in all living creatures. Hydra vulgaris, freshwater creatures that look like miniature jellyfish polyps, expand and contract as they navigate their environments, but can also be prompted to do so by giving them a poke. The Rice lab has developed highly specialized equipment over the last decade to do that, temporarily constraining the animals in the channel of a microfluidic device to capture simultaneous images and data that detail their muscular and neural responses.