Friday, May 24, 2013

Six Degrees of Neuron Separation?

Complex behavior always involves multiple parts of the brain communicating with one another, with one region’s message affecting how another region will respond. Fortunately, the brain is heavily interconnected. Researchers say you can get from any neuron in the brain to any other neuron in about six synaptic connections. Classically, specific brain circuits have been linked to dedicated types of brain functions. Recent research by UCLA’s Michael Fanslow and Moriel Zelikowsky in collaboration with Bryce Vissel at Sydney Australia’s Garvan Institue of Medical Research has revealed some fascinating and encouraging results about the ability of the brain to develop alternate brain function connections. Studies of rat brains with damage in the hippocampus revealed that the brain was able to recruit alternate circuits that allowed the brain to compensate for some of the damage. This is exciting as it offers promise for targeted treatment of memory disorders. More tomorrow . . .

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