Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rare cell prevents rampant brain activity

02.03.2007
One of the mysteries of the brain is how it avoids ending up in a state of chaos, something which happens only on exceptional occasions, when it can lead to epileptic fits. Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have now uncovered a new mechanism controlling how the brain keeps its neuronal activity in check.

The human brain consists of around a hundred million nerve cells linked together by around ten billion contact junctions called synapses. The activity of this extremely complex network is regulated through a dynamic balance between excitatory signals, which are transmitted by one type of synapse, and inhibitory counter-signals, which are transmitted by another.

An imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory activity is associated with diseases such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, and anxiety. But despite the fact that excitatory synapses are much more common than their inhibitory counterparts, the system is generally kept in a state of equilibrium. Just how the brain manages this feat is a puzzle to scientists.

Scientists at Karolinska Institutet and the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland have now discovered a mechanism that might explain how the most common type of neuron in the cerebral cortex – the pyramid cell – is prevented from becoming over-activated. Their results show that a rarer cell type that links collections of pyramid cells – called a Martinotti cell –

acts as a kind of safety device. When a Martinotti cell receives signals above a certain frequency, it responds by sending back inhibitory signals that moderate surrounding pyramid cells.

Gilad Silberberg, one of the researchers behind the study, believes that the mechanism is essential to understanding brain disorders like epilepsy.

“A characteristic feature of epilepsy is the hyperactivation of cortical pyramid cells, which is exactly what this mechanism inhibits. It is possible that epilepsy is related to a deficit of Martinotti cells or a deficiency of Martinotti activity in the brain.”

Katarina Sternudd | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ki.se

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>