Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Identify Very First Neurons In The 'Thinking' Brain

Date:
July 22, 2006
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Researchers at Yale School of Medicine and the University of Oxford have identified the very first neurons in what develops into the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that makes humans human. The findings published in Nature Neuroscience show that the first neurons, or "predecessors," as the researchers called them, are in place 31 days after fertilization. This is much earlier than previously thought and well before development of arms, legs or eyes.

The earliest identified neuron in the embryonic human cerebral cortex. Predecessor neuron is labeled golden, other proliferating cells are blue.
Credit: Image courtesy of Yale University

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine and the University of Oxford have identified the very first neurons in what develops into the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that makes humans human.

The findings published in Nature Neuroscience show that the first neurons, or "predecessors," as the researchers called them, are in place 31 days after fertilization. This is much earlier than previously thought and well before development of arms, legs or eyes.

"These neurons, described here for the first time, precede all other known cell types of the developing cortex," the researchers said in their paper. "These precocious predecessor neurons might be important in the cascade of developmental events leading to the formation of the human cerebral cortex."

The cerebral cortex is largely responsible for human cognition, playing an essential role in perception, memory, thought, language, mental ability, intellect and consciousness. It is composed of about 20 billion neurons and accounts for 40 percent of the brain's weight.

Co-author Pasko Rakic, chair of the Department of Neurobiology and director of the Kavli Institute of Neuroscience at Yale, said the use of highly specific cell markers led the team to the surprising discovery of new types of neurons in the prospective cerebral cortex.

"We hypothesize that these predecessor neurons may be a transient population involved in determining the number of functional radial units including the human specific regions of the cerebral cortex mediating higher cognitive functions," Rakic said. "As a next step it is essential to determine their neural stem cell lineage, pattern of gene expression, developmental role and eventual fate."

Pinpointing the early development of the cerebral cortex may help in understanding the many developmental disorders of higher brain function, such as autism, schizophrenia, childhood epilepsy, developmental dyslexia and mental retardation. It also may explain how the human brain developed differently from that of other species.

Until recently it was thought that cortical neurons were generated locally, but this research team describes a distinctive, widespread population of neurons situated beneath the surface of the human embryonic forebrain even before complete closure of the neural tube.

Predecessor cells, unlike mature nerve cells, do not have synaptic connection with other neurons. They do have long processes, or "tails," with one stretching out in front of the cell body and the other trailing behind. Analysis of the skeleton of these cells suggests that they migrate upwards in the surface of the developing brain and enter the future cortex.

The researchers found that the processes form a vast network and they speculate that this web of processes might be used to control neuronal production, guide the migration of cells and determine the regional specification of the cerebral cortex.

Co-authors include Irina Bystron, Zoltan Molnar and Colin Blakemore of Oxford.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Researchers Identify Very First Neurons In The 'Thinking' Brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721182137.htm>.
Yale University. (2006, July 22). Researchers Identify Very First Neurons In The 'Thinking' Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721182137.htm
Yale University. "Researchers Identify Very First Neurons In The 'Thinking' Brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060721182137.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins