The brain’s helper cells have a hand in learning fear | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


News in Brief

The brain’s helper cells have a hand in learning fear

Astrocytes in the hippocampus may send signals that promote memories of trauma

By
2:30pm, November 15, 2017
astrocyte

NEW ROLE  A kind of brain cell called an astrocyte (shown) may help nerve cells in the hippocampus form traumatic memories, a study in rats suggests.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Helper cells in the brain just got tagged with a new job — forming traumatic memories.

When rats experience trauma, cells in the hippocampus — an area important for learning — produce signals for inflammation, helping to create a potent memory. But most of those signals aren’t coming from the nerve cells, researchers reported November 15 at the Society for Neuroscience meeting.

Instead, more than 90 percent of a key inflammation protein comes from astrocytes. This role in memory formation adds to the repertoire of these starburst-shaped cells, once believed to be responsible for only providing food and support to more important brain cells (SN Online: 8/4/15).  

The work could provide new insight into how the brain

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More Human Development articles

From the Nature Index Paid Content