Many animals have highly developed senses, such as vision in carnivores, touch in mice, and hearing in bats. Research from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute has uncovered a brain molecule that can explain the existence of such finely-tuned sensory capabilities, revealing how brain cells responsible for specific senses are positioned to receive incoming sensory information. The study, led by Dr. Tomomi Shimogori and published in the journal Science, sought to uncover the molecule that enables high acuity sensing by examining brain regions that receive information from the senses. They found that areas responsible for touch in mice and vision in ferrets contain a protein called BTBD3 that optimizes neuronal shape to receive sensory input more efficiently.
Asuka Matsui, May Tran, Aya C. Yoshida, Satomi S. Kikuchi, Mami U, Masaharu Ogawa and Tomomi Shimogori. "BTBD3 Controls Dendrite Orientation Toward Active Axons in Mammalian Neocortex". Science, 2013. doi:10.1126/science.1244505