Navigation Links
Protein Key to Brain Rewiring
Date:8/7/2008

It sends signals, telling neurons to change connections

THURSDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists say they're gaining insight into how the brain rewires itself as it learns new things, potentially helping them move toward better treatments for mental illness and brain injuries.

Researchers report that a protein appears to tell the brain that it's time to start rewiring, because new information is coming in.

While the study only looked at mice, the protein "could become a great clinical tool" in humans, said study co-author Takao Hensch, a professor of neurology at Children's Hospital Boston.

At issue is the brain's "plasticity," or ability to change itself as it learns. The brains of young children are the most adaptable, because they can physically rewire themselves.

"You actually have neurons reconnecting from one cell to a different cell," Hensch said. "This kind of dramatic rewiring happens predominantly, if not exclusively, in [early] development."

The brain's ability to adapt to new information explains why children have a much easier time learning languages than adults, Hensch said.

But over time, the brain becomes more settled in its ways. "The ability to rewire neurons in that physical way seems to become much harder with age," he said. "Evolutionarily, somehow it seems to be advantageous to stop that process, to stabilize the networks in your head and go on with life."

In the new study, published in the Aug. 8 issue of Cell, Hensch and colleagues looked at a protein called Otx 2 in mice.

Using a test involving the visual system, the researcher found that the protein acts as a signal to tell the brain that crucial information is coming in from the eyes.

"It's a surprising mechanism," he said. "It indicates that the sensory organs in the periphery -- the eyes at the front of the head -- have a mechanism to tell the brain when the eyes are ready and actually seeing something meaningful."

If scientists understand the protein's function correctly, it could mean that "every sensory system has some kind of message to send to the brain to make it plastic at some time," Hensch said.

It's possible that researchers could develop a way to "turn on" brain plasticity in older people, such as those with mental illness or brain injuries. Since the Otx 2 protein sends signals from the eyes, it may be possible to give treatments through eyedrops, Hensch said.

The findings are important and "start to tell us how external information can directly affect molecular mechanisms of the brain," said Paul Sanberg, director of the University of South Florida College of Medicine's Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair.

The research could indeed be used to help scientists find new drugs to help the brain repair itself following damage, Sanberg said. However, "there are still many more studies that need to be done to understand plasticity in other parts of the brain and how to translate it to human problems."

More information

Learn more about brain plasticity from the University of Washington.



SOURCES: Takao Hensch, Ph.D., professor, molecular & cellular biology, Harvard Medical School, and professor, neurology, Children's Hospital Boston; Paul Sanberg, Ph.D., director, Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa; Aug. 8, 2008, Cell


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Draining away brains toxic protein to stop Alzheimers
2. Penn study finds pro-death proteins required to regulate healthy immune function
3. New prion protein discovered by Canadian scientists may offer insight into mad cow disease
4. Emory researchers identify signaling protein for multiple myeloma
5. Human C-reactive protein regulates myeloma tumor cell growth and survival
6. Lowering Blood Protein Wont Help Kidney Patients
7. Blood protein detects lung cancer, even at earliest stage
8. Natural Protein Could Help Spot, Treat Liver Cancer
9. Heat shock proteins are co-opted for cancer
10. How adhesive protein causes malaria
11. Loss of gene leads to protein splicing and buildup of toxic proteins in neurons
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Protein Key to Brain Rewiring
(Date:12/9/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... December 09, 2016 , ... ... whiteboard display solutions, proudly announced today that a new solution for Emergency Departments ... fit in the tight space in Emergency Department examination rooms, and with a ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Cambridge, MA (PRWEB) , ... December 08, 2016 ... ... the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) officially opened registration today for its ... Place Hotel in Boston, MA . , The theme of the conference is ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... CURE Media Group, the nation’s leading digital ... aligned with Upstage Lung Cancer in efforts to combat lung cancer, announced CURE Media ... Jr said, “CURE Media Group is honored to team up with Upstage Lung Cancer ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... December 08, ... ... Presence Suite 10.2 version gives development continuity to its innovative Unified Instance ... channels management capacity. In addition, this new version optimizes the unattended auto-dialing ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... Today’s patients are encouraged ... in mind, SIGVARIS has created a new line of anti-embolism stockings to help ... provide the benefits of graduated compression when transitioning from recovery to early rehabilitation. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... 8, 2016 KEY FINDINGS ... of the market in 2016 and is expected to ... attributed to a large number of surgical procedures that ... largest share in the patient temperature management market.) Patient ... reducing loss of blood during surgeries, lowering the risks ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... Adhesion Type, Application, Usability - Forecast to 2025" report to ... , , ... poised to grow at a CAGR of around 3.2% from 2015 ... witnessing include advancements in extracellular microelectrode arrays and intracellular microelectrodes, research ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... 2016  Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (NYSE: ... announced positive results from a Phase 3, multicenter ... safety and efficacy of IDP-118 (halobetasol propionate and ... Within the Phase 3 study ... psoriasis, IDP-118 showed statistical significance to vehicle with ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: