The human brain is composed of billions of cells, each a separate entity that communicates with others. The chemical interaction of those cells determines personality, controls behavior and encodes memory; but much remains to be understood.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed tools for studying the chemistry of the brain, neuron by neuron. The analytical techniques can probe the spatial and temporal distribution of biologically important molecules, such as vitamin E, and explore the chemical messengers behind thought, memory and emotion.
"In most organ tissues of the body, adjacent cells do not have significant differences in their chemical contents," said Jonathan Sweedler, a William H. and Janet Lycan Professor of Chemistry and director of the Biotechnology Center at the U. of I. "In the brain, however, chemical differences between neurons are critical for their operation, and the connections between cells are crucial for encoding information or controlling functions."
James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
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