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Brain cells work differently than previously thought
Date:8/19/2007

d that if you stimulate the axon, the signal can be altered, like turning the volume knob on the radio, Metherate said.

Originally, Metherate and his colleagues had hoped to confirm the idea that the drug nicotine alters information that is processed in the cell body or terminal. Puzzled by several negative tests, they developed an experiment in which they could study the intervening axon.

In their experiment, they examined a section of mouse brain associated with hearing that contained a brain cell with an axon connecting to the cortex. Using nicotine, they stimulated the axon to determine how it would affect a signal the brain cell sent to the cortex. Without applying nicotine, about 35 percent of the messages sent by the brain cell reached the cortex. But when nicotine was applied to the axon, the success rate nearly doubled to about 70 percent.

We looked for more conventional reasons why the response was enhanced, but the evidence just kept pointing to the axon. Nicotine activated the proteins that we think are on the axon, Metherate said. This is a completely new idea about how the brain works.


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Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger
jfitzen@uci.edu
949-824-3969
University of California - Irvine
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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