Pharyngula

I found an article about new brain cells that I thought was really interesting. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine discovered the mechanism behind how new neural cells are integrated into the adult brain. It turns out that new neural cells take a while to mature and fully integrate themselves into existing neural networks in the brain. While they are maturing, they rely on signals from other brain regions so that they do not disturb ongoing functions of the brain. They can receive input from these other regions for up to 10 days before they are ready to make any of their own outputs. So how long does it take to fully develop their synaptic connections so that they can talk to one another? Up to 3 weeks.

So why do we care; what is significant about this discovery? This mechanism sheds light on how neural cells integrate themselves into existing networks, which will impact how stem cells are used to replace neurons lost to injury or disease. The main concern is about neurons firing inappropriately, which could cause seizures or cognitive dysfunction.

The full article can be found in the Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 27

Comments

  1. #1 Duff
    October 30, 2007

    I’ve always believed that if I want to remember something I had to repeat it to myself over a period of a couple of weeks. Maybe I was on to something. Certainly not from any visceral understanding of neuronal networks, but just dumb observation.

  2. #2 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    The main concern is about neurons firing inappropriately, which could cause seizures or cognitive dysfunction.

    PZ, you should send a copy of this article to Michael Egnor ASAP.

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