Busy brain hubs go awry in disorders, study suggests

Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and other diseases target connection centers

3:21pm, June 26, 2014

BRAIN DRAIN  Some of the brain’s most highly connected hubs (large spheres) may malfunction in brain disorders, a new study suggests. Yellow and red spheres are associated with disorders.

In the brain, a handful of bustling hubs routinely handle heavy volumes of messages. In many cases, these key transit centers and the brain areas affected by brain disorders are one and the same, scientist report June 19 in Brain.    

The results highlight the importance of studying connections between nerve cells as well as discrete brain regions, an approach that may reveal a deeper understanding of the human mind (SN: 2/22/14, p. 22), says Nicolas Crossley, a neuroscientist at King’s College London.

With message-sending fibrils called axons, nerve cells in the brain form a complex web of connections that scientists call the connectome. Some parts of this web, called hubs, are especially rich in axons, both coming in and going out.

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