Max Planck Researchers identify rapid neuromodulation of interneurons in human neocortex
The human neocortex mediates many of the capacities that distinguish us from our closest relatives such as conscious thought and language. It is therefore striking that our understanding of this brain area is still overwhelmingly based on studies with animal models.
A team of scientists led by Johannes Letzkus at the Frankfurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research has investigated how cortical circuits are rapidly modulated in humans. Their findings reveal both essential similarities and differences to the mouse and will be published in the latest edition of Cell Reports.
Whether you are daydreaming, reminiscing about past events or reading this press release, your neocortex is indispensable for all higher brain functions. It is the brain area that has expanded and diversified the most during evolution, making it home to many billions of neurons in humans.
To achieve its diverse functions, neocortex must integrate information from many other brain areas. One of these releases the neuromodulator acetylcholine, which is critical for shaping cortical computations during learning and focusing your attention.
In order to understand the actions of acetylcholine on neurons of human neocortex, the Frankfurt researchers teamed up with researchers at VU University in Amsterdam to obtain living human tissue that needs to be removed from patients being treated for different brain disorders.
These generous donations by the patients enabled postdoc Rogier Poorthuis to investigate how the activity of different types of neurons is affected by acetylcholine. Remarkably, they identified a cell-type that is strongly and rapidly excited by this modulator.
The research team went on to investigate the receptors underlying the responses in interneurons and found those to be similar to mice. Letzkus: “We continued our investigations and studied the molecular properties of human layer 1 interneurons. The results were striking. We found a novel genetic marker that is conserved between humans and mice, and that can now be used to understand how human brain disorders affect these cells”.
Besides similarities, there are differences between the responses of mouse and human interneurons. One is that in humans these cells respond much more vigorously than their rodent counterparts, which indicates that fewer inputs may be able to recruit them during cognitive processes.
“It was truly fascinating to be able to record the activity of human interneurons” says Johannes Letzkus. “Despite some special features, we were struck by how many of the fundamental properties of these neurons are conserved in human neocortex, which also suggests that research on mice can contribute significantly to an understanding of our own brain”.
Dr. Arjan Vink | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung
Hopkins researchers ID neurotransmitter that helps cancers progress
25.04.2019 | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Trigger region found for absence epileptic seizures
25.04.2019 | RIKEN
Flexible, organic and printed electronics conquer everyday life. The forecasts for growth promise increasing markets and opportunities for the industry. In Europe, top institutions and companies are engaged in research and further development of these technologies for tomorrow's markets and applications. However, access by SMEs is difficult. The European project SmartEEs - Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing works on the establishment of a European innovation network, which supports both the access to competences as well as the support of the enterprises with the assumption of innovations and the progress up to the commercialization.
It surrounds us and almost unconsciously accompanies us through everyday life - printed electronics. It starts with smart labels or RFID tags in clothing, we...
The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, but less sensitive to blue and red. Chemists led by Hubert Huppertz at the University of Innsbruck have now developed a new red phosphor whose light is well perceived by the eye. This increases the light yield of white LEDs by around one sixth, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting systems.
Light emitting diodes or LEDs are only able to produce light of a certain colour. However, white light can be created using different colour mixing processes.
Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.
Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
25.04.2019 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2019 | Earth Sciences
25.04.2019 | Life Sciences