Brain Cells are volume knobs, not wiring

August 19, 2007

clipped from www.physorg.com

Modern human brain. Image source: Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison Brain Collection.

Scientists know that information travels between brain cells along hairlike extensions called axons. For the first time, researchers have found that axons don’t just transmit information – they can turn the signal up or down with the right stimulation.

This finding may help scientists develop treatments for psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia in which it is thought that different parts of the brain do not communicate correctly with each other.

“Axons, we thought, were like wires in a radio conveying signals, but we found that if you stimulate the axon, the signal can be altered, like turning the volume knob on the radio,” Metherate said.
“We looked for more conventional reasons why the response was enhanced, but the evidence just kept pointing to the axon. Nicotine activated the proteins that we think are on the axon,” Metherate said. “This is a completely new idea about how the brain works.”
  blog it
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: