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Brain works more chaotically than previously thought

only released at "synapses", a term he coined. According to the founder of modern neurophysiology this means that nerve cells can only communicate with a small number of other nerve cells, i.e. only with those with which they are connected via synapses. This concept is the basis of the notion that neuronal information in the brain, somewhat like electricity in a computer, only spreads directionally in the brain, following specific ordered circuits.

Too much glutamate is the death of cells

There is, however, also an aspect to the research team's discovery that is of considerable medical interest. It has long been known that in the event of oxygen deficiency or a severe epileptic fit, large numbers of insulating cells in the white matter are destroyed. The trigger for this damage is our old friend, the neurotransmitter glutamate. "Nobody knew until now where the glutamate actually comes from," says Dr. Dietrich. "Our results might open the door to totally new therapeutic options." After all, drugs have already been developed that prevent glutamate bubbles from discharging their load into the brain. Indeed, Bonn's neuroscientists now know precisely which receptors of the insulating cells are stimulated by the neurotransmitter ?another starting point for developing new drugs.

Yet, why can glutamate sometimes be so dangerous? When an epileptic fit occurs, the nerve cells "fire" very rapidly and fiercely. In this event so many impulses run through the axons that large quantities of glutamate are released all at once. "In these concentrations the neurotransmitter damages the insulating cells," says Dietrich. "It's the dosage that makes it harmful."


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Source:University of Bonn


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