Latest Issue of Science News


News

Protein triggers nerve connections

From New Orleans, at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience

Neuroscientists are slowly learning that neurons aren't the only stars in the brain. Instead, they're part of an ensemble performance involving other types of brain cells collectively known as glia (SN: 4/7/01, p. 222: Available to subscribers at Gray Matters).

In particular, glia known as astrocytes make up about half the cells in the brain, although their exact role has remained murky. In 2001, a research group led by Ben Barres of Stanford University School of Medicine reported that astrocytes somehow enable nerve cells to form the specialized brain connections called synapses. Nerve cells grown without glial cells in the neighborhood develop far fewer synapses than normal, the scientists found.

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.

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