October 15, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 18)
Strong Points: Various search parameters, links to referenced papers
Weak Points: Some of the search features bring up error messages
The elation of falling in love, the sting of a sunburn after a day at the beach, the ability to do long division—none of these would be possible without the elegant network of communication between our neurons. Their speech is that of electrical impulses, spoken in myriad dialects of neurotransmitters and their receptors. So how does one study the various neuron types with their conductance nuances and diverse chemical communications? Well, the Neuron Database at the Yale University School of Medicine is a good place to start. Neuron DB is part of the larger brain initiative SenseLab, and its focus is providing a dynamic database covering three neuronal properties: voltage-gated conductances, neurotransmitters, and neurotransmitter receptors. Visitors to the site can search by these three parameters or they can search for specific types of neurons either alphabetically or by brain region. Additionally, there is a comprehensive citation list of the papers used to compile the database.