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Rising carbon dioxide confuses brain signaling in fish

Nerve cells respond to acidifying waters

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6:42pm, January 15, 2012

A new study may explain how rising carbon dioxide concentrations — and the ocean acidification they induce — can cause topsy-turvy changes in the behavior of fish. Like a flipped switch, the normal response of nerve cells can reverse as acidifying seawater perturbs how a fish regulates acids and bases in its body, including the brain.

“This could be a big deal,” says neurobiologist Andrew Dittman of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. Dittman, who was not affiliated with the study, says the new findings could go a long way toward explaining curious sensory changes observed in fish exposed to acidifying waters. The sc

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