Latest Issue of Science News


Live Wires: Axons can influence nerve impulses

The "wires" that carry electrical signals among nerve cells in the brain can influence the threshold at which the cells will send those signals, research on mouse-brain tissue shows.

The finding challenges the conventional view of nerve cells, or neurons. In that scenario, processes within a nerve cell determine whether or not to fire an electrical impulse, and the wire, called an axon, is a passive carrier of that signal.

"[Our research] says that the dogma is incorrect," says lead scientist Raju Metherate of the University of California, Irvine. A more active role for axons could be important for understanding how the brain processes sensory information. It could also have implications for the understanding of neurological diseases such as schizophrenia, Metherate says.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.