Findings reported in Nature Neuroscience give new understanding to how cells in auditory system organize before hearing develops
Generations of neuroscientists have been indoctrinated into believing that our senses, thoughts, feelings and movements are orchestrated by a communication network of brain cells, or neurons, each responsible for relaying one specific chemical message called a neurotransmitter. Either neurons release a neurotransmitter that excites a neighboring cell, thereby triggering an electrical discharge and enhancing brain activity, or they dispatch a signal that quells a neurons activity. So, when researchers at the University of Pittsburgh discovered that immature rat brain cells could fire a simultaneous three-punch salvo – three neurotransmitters bursting out of a single cell -- it was a finding they knew would excite more than just neurons.
Just as surprising, they report in the lead article of this months Nature Neuroscience, is that by definition these three neurotransmitters are seemingly at odds with each other. One, glutamate, is a textbook excitatory neurotransmitter; while the other two, GABA and glycine, are quintessential inhibitory neurotransmitters.
Lisa Rossi | EurekAlert!
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