A team of researchers at the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University has discovered that hidden differences in the properties of neural circuits can account for whether animals are behaviorally susceptible to brain injury. These results could have implications for the treatment of brain trauma.
People vary in their responses to stroke and trauma, which impedes the ability of physicians to predict patient outcomes. Damage to the brain and nervous system can lead to severe disabilities, including epilepsy and cognitive impairment.
If doctors could predict outcomes with greater accuracy, patients might benefit from more tailored treatments. Unfortunately, the complexity of the human brain hinders efforts to explain why similar brain damage can affect each person differently.
The researchers used a unique research animal, a sea slug called Tritonia diomedea, to study this question. This animal was used because unlike humans, it has a small number of neurons and its behavior is simple. Despite this simplicity, the animals varied in how neurons were connected.
Under normal conditions, this variability did not matter to the animals' behavior, but when a major pathway in the brain was severed, some of the animals showed little behavioral deficit, while others could not produce the behavior being studied. Remarkably, the researchers could artificially rewire the neural circuit using computer-generated connections and make animals susceptible or invulnerable to the injury.
"This study is important in light of the current Obama BRAIN initiative, which seeks to map all of the connections in the human brain," said Georgia State professor, Paul Katz, who led the research project. "it shows that even in a simple brain, small differences that have no effect under normal conditions, have major implications when the nervous system is challenged by injury or trauma."
Results of this study were published in the most recent edition of the journal eLife. The lead author on the study, Dr. Akira Sakurai, made this discovery in the course of doing basic research. He was assisted by Ph.D. student Arianna Tamvacakis from Dr. Katz's lab.
The project was funded in part by grants from the National Science Foundation and was initiated by a seed grant from the Brains and Behavior Program in the Neuroscience Institute.
The March of Dimes Foundation has also recently awarded Dr. Katz a three-year, $330,000 grant for the project.
It is hoped results of this work will provide basic information about how all nervous systems function.
Full article: Sakurai A, Tamvacakis AN, Katz PS. (2014). Hidden synaptic differences in a neural circuit underlie differential behavioral susceptibility to a neural injury, eLife 10.7554/eLife.02598. http://elifesciences.org/content/early/2014/06/11/eLife.02598
For more information on Dr. Katz and the research being conducted in his laboratory, visit http://tinyurl.com/katzlab.
Natasha De Veauuse Brown | Eurek Alert!
Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties
23.02.2017 | Vanderbilt University
Researchers identify cause of hereditary skeletal muscle disorder
22.02.2017 | Klinikum der Universität München
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News