Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chandelier Cells Unveil Human Cognition

Date:
September 6, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
What is it that distinguishes humans from other mammals? The answer to this question lies in the neocortex -- the part of the brain responsible for sensory perceptions, conscious thought and language. Humans have a considerably larger neocortex than other mammals, making it an ideal subject for the research of higher cognition. Scientists now reveal new insights into the mysteries of neocortex organization and function.

What is it that distinguishes humans from other mammals? The answer to this question lies in the neocortex – the part of the brain responsible for sensory perceptions, conscious thought, and language. Humans have a considerably larger neocortex than other mammals, making it an ideal subject for the research of higher cognition.

In this month's issue of PLoS Biology, authors Tamas, et al, reveal new insights into the mysteries of neocortex organization and function.

Theories about cognition couldn't be more different. One theory suggests that humans have a higher cognition because we have larger cells and a more complex circuitry in the neocortex. Another theory claims that our higher cognition is due to different types of cells in the neocortex – cells that other mammals don't have. The authors, Tamas, et al, point to an important role in chandelier cells – so-named for their structural resemblance to an old-fashioned candlestick.

In this study, the authors study the microcircuitry of neocortical cells by recording from pairs of connected neurons in human brain tissue. This challenging method allowed them to measure the dynamic communication lines between neurons, illustrating how neurons interact and affect one another.

Whereas previously it was thought that neurons worked in groups to affect the brain, the authors show that a single chandelier cell can trigger multiple excitatory pyramidal cells – which make up the bulk of the cortex – and cause a chain reaction throughout the brain.

By triggering specific chandelier cells, the authors were able to elicit a precisely timed chain of electrical events in the neocortex. Additionally, the authors found that the synaptic pathways between chandeliers and pyramid cells are incredibly strong – much stronger than has been recorded previously in other mammals. This suggests that humans do possess different types of cells, and that our higher cognition isn't due to having larger cells.

Although chandelier cells have been found in other species, they are more complex in humans. This raises the possibility that there are many things which attribute to higher cognition – different types of cells, and a complex circuitry, perhaps. This study by Tamas, et al, furthers the search for the answers to higher cognition, and more fully opens the door to questions of how our brains compare to those of other species.

 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Molnár et al. Complex Events Initiated by Individual Spikes in the Human Cerebral Cortex. PLoS Biology, 2008; 6 (9): e222 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060222

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Chandelier Cells Unveil Human Cognition." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902221739.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, September 6). Chandelier Cells Unveil Human Cognition. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902221739.htm
Public Library of Science. "Chandelier Cells Unveil Human Cognition." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902221739.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) — To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida

After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida

AP (Apr. 14, 2014) — Florida wildlife officials say they have killed five bears following an attack on a woman in a suburban subdivision in central Florida. Forty-five year-old Terri Frana was attacked by a large bear in her driveway Saturday. (April 14) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uruguay Opens Its First Cannabis Library

Uruguay Opens Its First Cannabis Library

AFP (Apr. 13, 2014) — Uruguay opened its first Cannabis Library in Montevideo on Saturday, where people can come and read books on cannabis or take classes on how to grow the plant or even how to cook with it. Duration: 01:20 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