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Researchers make surprise discovery that some neurons can transmit three signals at once

activation. But, as if by design, during the exact period when the auditory brain is undergoing refinement, the GABA and glycine neurotransmitters can produce depolarizations, a process that normally can only be achieved by excitatory transmitters.

It is not yet known how long the cells retain this unique capacity, for how long the neurons are able to release all three neurotransmitters or what causes the cells to stop releasing glutamate as they mature. But according to the study's first author, Deda C. Gillepsie, Ph.D., a post-doctoral associate working with Dr. Kandler, things become more normalized within three weeks of birth, or about one week after hearing is fully developed. So, perhaps early auditory experience provides the signals that stop the cells from releasing glutamate, which is a prerequisite for correctly processing auditory information.

"It will be interesting to find out whether abnormal hearing, such as partial deafness or hearing dominated by noise, which in humans can affect normal language development, would cause glutamate to still be released. Finding such an association would be intriguing, but for now this remains just an hypothesis that will require much study, Dr. Gillespie said.

The third author of the study is Gunsoo Kim, Ph.D., who is now pursuing post-doctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco.


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Source:University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


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