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:10/12/2017)... ... ... IsoComforter, Inc. ( https://isocomforter.com ), one of the Nation’s premier ... of the shoulder pad. The shoulder pad provides optimal support and full contact ... using cold therapy. By utilizing ice and water that is circulated from an insulated ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Information about the ... to develop to enable prevention of a major side effect of chemotherapy in ... in pediatric patients. For cisplatin, hearing loss is FDA listed on-label as a ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... of their peers in Washington, D.C., for the 49th Congress of the International ... Ph.D ., Vice President of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Health Literacy Innovations (HLI), ... software tool, and the Cancer Patient Education Network (CPEN), an independent professional organization ... a new strategic alliance. , As CPEN’s strategic partner, HLI will help ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... at the University of California Berkeley, and other leading institutions in announcing the ... power of institutions to change the way animals are raised for food. , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... Calif. , Oct. 11, 2017  BioPharmX Corporation ... scientific team that developed an innovative way to use ... of the delivery of new drugs. ... Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference will show how researchers from ... Hospital, Harvard Medical School used a suite of imaging ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Oct. 10, 2017   West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. ... for injectable drug administration, today shared the results of ... for improving the intradermal administration of polio vaccines. The ... Summit in May 2017 by Dr. Ondrej Mach ... World Health Organization (WHO), and recently published in the ...
(Date:10/4/2017)... , Oct. 4, 2017 ... single-use, self-contained, illuminating medical devices, today announced regulatory ... Health Surveillance Agency (or Agência Nacional de Vigilância ... first single-use, cordless surgical retractor with integrated LED ... optimal access, illumination and exposure of a tissue ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: