Friday, March 27, 2009
This is an interesting breaktrhough in neuroscience: US researchers have found that what really separates human brains from those of mice and rats, and probably from those of other rather intelligent (and certainly big-brained) animals as elephants, is not our neurones (identical) but the other brain and spinal cells: the astrocytes.
Astrocytes have been long thought to be mere support units in brains. One of the reason is that they do not communicate via electrical signals and therefore are hard to listen to. But what is been now discovered is that they actually communicate with neurons via calcium exchanges and that, importantly, human brains have unique types of astrocytes (laminar ones) and also that other common types are larger and maybe more sophisticated.
Full story in Science Daily.
Original paper: N. Oberheim et al., Uniquely Hominid Features of Adult Human Astrocytes.