Navigation Links
Unexpected discovery reveals a new mechanism for how the cerebellum extracts signal from noise
Date:3/21/2012

Research at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) has demonstrated the novel expression of an ion channel in Purkinje cells specialized neurons in the cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for movement. Ray W. Turner, PhD, Professor in the Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy and PhD student Jordan Engbers and colleagues published this finding in the January edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

This research identifies for the first time that an ion channel called KCa3.1 that was not previously believed to be expressed in the brain is actually present in Purkinje cells. In addition, these researchers demonstrate the mechanism by which this ion channel allows Purkinje cells to filter sensory input in order to coordinate the body's movements.

The discovery was unexpected, as Engbers explains, "we didn't specifically go looking for this channel. A lot of time was spent trying to identify the source for an electrical current that we were observing and we finally found ourselves asking 'what evidence is there that KCa3.1 isn't in the brain?' So we ran some tests and all the pieces really fell into place."

In the cerebellum, sensory input activates neurons called Purkinje cells that have to filter the information and respond only to relevant inputs to produce an appropriate movement response. Although this function of Purkinje cells has been well documented, Engbers and Turner take our understanding a step further by demonstrating that the KCa3.1 ion channel plays a key part in this process - acting as a gatekeeper to filter the enormous amount of incoming information.

As Turner explains, "these cells receive hundreds of thousands of signals every second from the body's sensory systems. KCa3.1 then allows the cells to filter out the background noise and respond to only the three or four inputs that are particularly relevant".

Engbers further describes the mechanism by which KCa3.1 filters out the unwanted information, "these channels are activated by an influx of calcium, which generates an inhibitory influence until the correct input is detected. Once the appropriate input is detected, the Purkinje cell responds with a burst of nerve impulses, which in turn initiates the proper motor response."

This research fills a substantial gap in understanding how neurons in the cerebellum process information. Engbers and Turner expect that continued research will identify KCa3.1 in other areas of the brain and that it will be responsible for several still unexplained phenomena observed in neuronal recordings.

"What we have found will help us understand how the cerebellum functions normally. Now that we have shown the scientific community this new information, we expect that it will become clear that KCa3.1 plays a much wider role in brain function," says Engbers.


'/>"/>

Contact: Shelley Grant
grantsj@ucalgary.ca
403-220-5049
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study of placenta unexpectedly leads to cancer gene
2. Unexpected finding opens up new way to stop autoimmune diseases and transplant rejection
3. New and unexpected mechanism identified how the brain responds to stress
4. Red pandas reveal an unexpected (artificial) sweet tooth
5. Yeast missing sex genes undergo unexpected sexual reproduction
6. Salt block unexpectedly stretches in Sandia experiments
7. 1-finger exercise reveals unexpected limits to dexterity
8. New study reveals unexpected relationship between climate warming and advancing treelines
9. Study points to new uses, unexpected side effects of already existing drugs
10. Research reveals lipids unexpected role in triggering death of brain cells
11. Study reveals H1N1 unexpected weakness
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a ... authentication solutions, today announced that it has been ... Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation ... "Innovation has been a driving force ... program will allow us to innovate and develop ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... 2017 Forecasts by Product Type ... by End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, Government & Public Sector, ... Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, Business Organisation ... Are you looking for a definitive report on the ... ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... 2017   EyeLock LLC , a leader of ... States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued U.S. ... of an iris image with a face image acquired ... company,s 45 th issued patent. ... given the multi-modal biometric capabilities that have recently come ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/26/2017)... April 26, 2017  Genisphere LLC, provider of ... signed a collaborative and sponsored research agreement with ... Muro . The overall goal of the partnership ... various 3DNA designs and formulations after in ... of the vasculature as well as inflammatory responses, ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... April 25, 2017 , ... Franz Inc ., an ... tools, and market leader for Semantic Graph Database technology, today announced ... the most effective system for developing and deploying applications to solve the challenges ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... , April 25, 2017 ... has licensed its novel immune-modulating technology to an undisclosed ... and allergy. Tregitopes, pronounced T·rej·itopes, are ... immunoglobulin by EpiVax CEO Annie De Groot ... intravenous immunoglobulin G, an autoimmune disease therapy, Tregitopes ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... April 25, 2017 , ... Covalent Metrology ... Analytical Services unit provides high-quality data to clients, both faster and cheaper ... receipt. There are no price premiums, and customers are welcome to participate in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: