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 July 25, 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 July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) — Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 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