Thursday, July 6, 2017
Your brain’s got rhythm - NEUROSCIENCE
Not everyone is Fred Astaire or Michael Jackson, but even those of us who seem to have two left feet have got rhythm—in our brains. From breathing to walking to chewing, our days are filled with repetitive actions that depend on the rhythmic firing of neurons. Yet the neural circuitry underpinning such seemingly ordinary behaviors is not fully understood, even though better insights could lead to new therapies for disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS and autism.
Recently, neuroscientists at the Salk Institute used stem cells to generate diverse networks of self-contained spinal cord systems in a dish, dubbed circuitoids, to study this rhythmic pattern in neurons. The work, which appeared online in February 14, 2017, issue of eLife, reveals that some of the circuitoids—with no external prompting—exhibited spontaneous, coordinated rhythmic activity of the kind known to drive repetitive movements.
“It’s still very difficult to contemplate how large groups of neurons with literally billions if not trillions of connections take information and process it,” says the work’s senior author, Salk Professor Samuel Pfaff, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and holds the Benjamin H. Lewis Chair. “But we think that developing this kind of simple circuitry in a dish will allow us to extract some of the principles of how real brain circuits operate. With that basic information maybe we can begin to understand how things go awry in disease.”
Source & further reading:http://www.salk.edu/news-release/brains-got-rhythm/
Image: Confocal microscope immunofluorescent image of a spinal cord neural circuit made entirely from stem cells and termed a “circuitoid”.
Credit: Salk Institute
Source: Corina Marinescu