Friday, December 30, 2011

Glia Cells and Plasticitiy

Every neuron in your brain is believed to have at least nine special assistants around the clock. Named Glia cells (Greek for “glue”), they help hold the brain’s neurons together and protect them, making neurotrophic food and helping to discard waste products. However, it appears Glia cells do much more than that. Researchers at Tel Aviv University believe that these Glia cells are central to the brain's plasticity. Rather than neuronal assistants they're much more like neuronal supervisors, controlling the transfer of information between neurons and impacting how the brain processes information and learns. A mechanism inside the Glia cells appears to regulate the synapses and sorts information for learning purposes. According to Professor Eshel Ben-Jacob, the brain functions much like a social network. Messages may originate with the neurons, which use the synapses as their delivery system, but the Glia serve as an overall moderator, regulating which messages are sent on and when. Happy New Year to you and your Glia Cells!

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