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.

Related Articles


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 November 28, 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 November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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