November 4, 2014

Cornell Researchers First to Look Into the Brains of Tiny Jumping Spiders

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By MICHAEL MERRILL

For the first time ever, researchers at Cornell have succeeded in measuring and analyzing electrical signals within the brains of jumping spiders. By inserting tiny electrical probes into the poppy-seed-sized brains of Phidippus audax, researchers have opened up a new field of scientific research into the inner workings of the arachnid brain.

“Since the 60s people tried to overcome this technical issue and no one succeeded in doing that,” said Gil Menda Ph.D. ’14, a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Prof. Ron Hoy, neurobiology and behavior, and a coauthor of the study detailing what the spiders’ neurons revealed. “The reason is that spiders are a pressurized animal. They have a high liquid pressure in their body. Whenever they want to move they have to push liquid through the body.”

Courtesy of Gil Menda Ph.D. ’14 I spy | Jumping spiders have brains the size of poppy seeds, but researchers were able to track the activity of their visual neurons for the first time ever using a tiny electrode.

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