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brain cells

See these first-of-a-kind views of living human nerve cells

New database could shed light on how people’s brains tick   The human brain is teeming with diversity. By plucking out delicate, live tissue during neurosurgery and then studying the resident cells, researchers have revealed a partial cast of neural characters that give rise to our thoughts, dreams and memories.   So far, researchers with the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle have described the intricate shapes and electrical properties of about 100 nerve cells, or neurons, taken from the brains of 36 patients as they underwent surgery for conditions such as brain tumors or epilepsy. To reach the right spot, surgeons had to remove a small hunk of brain tissue, which is usually discarded as medical waste. In this case, the brain tissue was promptly packed up and sent — ...

Study Identifies Brain Cells Responsible for Memory-Based Decision Making

The witness on the stand says he saw the accused at the scene of the crime. Is he sure? How sure? The jury’s verdict could hinge on that level of certainty. Many decisions we make every day are influenced by our memories and the confidence we have in them. But very little is known about how we decide whether we can trust a memory or not. A new Cedars-Sinai study provides some of the answers. Researchers have identified a unique set of neurons in the medial temporal lobe, an area of the brain where memories and memory-based decisions are processed. They show that the activity of these neurons is indicative of the confidence by which a memory will be retrieved. Findings are published in the June 8 online issue of Nature Neuroscience. “The mechanisms that help us make confidence j...

Researchers take major step forward in developing real ALS treatments

Similar results in experimental animals and human cells in dish A series of studies begun by Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) scientists eight years ago has lead to a report published today that may be a major step forward in the quest to develop real treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The findings by Harvard professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB) Kevin Eggan and colleagues also has produced functionally identical results in human motor neurons in a laboratory dish and in a mouse model of the disease, demonstrating that the modeling of human disease with customized stem cells in the laboratory could someday relatively soon eliminate some of the need for animal testing.

Transplantation of healthy new brain cells reverses learning and memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease model

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—July 15, 2014—A new study from the Gladstone Institutes has revealed a way to alleviate the learning and memory deficits caused by apoE4, the most important genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, improving cognition to normal levels in aged mice. In the study, which was conducted in collaboration with researchers at UC San Francisco and published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists transplanted inhibitory neuron progenitors—early-stage brain cells that have the capacity to develop into mature inhibitory neurons—into two mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, apoE4 or apoE4 with accumulation of amyloid beta, another major contributor to Alzheimer’s. The transplants helped to replenish the brain by replacing cells lost due to apoE4, regulating brain activit...

Scientists find a new strategy for brain cancer treatment

Scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University and McGill University Health Centre have shown that a member of the protein family known as SUMO (small ubiquitin-like modifier) is a key to why tumor cells multiply uncontrollably, especially in the case of glioblastoma. The SUMO family proteins modify other proteins and the SUMOylation of proteins are critical for many cellular processes. Identifying SUMO’s role in the cancer cell growth will lead to a new strategy for glioblastoma treatment. Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal brain cancer. Current standard treatments include surgical resection, adjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Despite the treatments, patients’ survive about a year and half. The cancer continues growing in part du...

PRESS RELEASE: A new cell type is implicated in epilepsy caused by traumatic brain injury

BOSTON (March 11, 2014) — Traumatic brain injury is a risk factor for epilepsy, though the relationship is not understood. A new study in mice, published in Cerebral Cortex, identifies increased levels of a specific neurotransmitter as a contributing factor connecting traumatic brain injury (TBI) to post-traumatic epilepsy. The findings suggest that damage to brain cells called interneurons disrupts neurotransmitter levels and plays a role in the development of epilepsy after a traumatic brain injury. The research team, led by David Cantu and Chris Dulla, studied the effect of traumatic brain injury on the levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the cerebral cortex, the portion of the brain associated with higher level functions such as information processing. Norm...

Researchers identify new type of cell in brain that helps people to keep track of their relative location

Using direct human brain recordings, a research team from Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, UCLA and Thomas Jefferson University has identified a new type of cell in the brain that helps people to keep track of their relative location while navigating an unfamiliar environment. The “grid cell,” which derives its name from the triangular grid pattern in which the cell activates during navigation, is distinct among brain cells because its activation represents multiple spatial locations. This behavior is how grid cells allow the brain to keep track of navigational cues such as how far you are from a starting point or your last turn. This type of navigation is called path integration.

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