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Mechanism found that prepares the a newborn's brain for information processing

Date:
May 16, 2010
Source:
University of Helsinki
Summary:
Researchers in France and Finland have found a mechanism in the memory center of newborn that adjusts the maturation of the brain for the information processing required later in life.

With their French colleagues, researchers at the University of Helsinki have found a mechanism in the memory center of newborn that adjusts the maturation of the brain for the information processing required later in life.

The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The brain cells in the brain of a newborn are still quite loosely interconnected. In the middle of chaos, they are looking for contact with each other and are only later able to operate as interactive neural networks.

Many cognitive operations, such as attention, memory, learning and certain states of sleep are based on rhythmic interactions of neural networks. For a long time the researchers have been interested in finding the stage in the development of the brain in which the functional characteristics and interconnections are sufficiently developed for these subtle brain functions.

Key players in this maturation process include a type of nerve cells called interneurons, and recent research sheds light on their functional development. The researchers have noticed that the activeness of the interneurons change dramatically during early development. In the memory center of the brain they found a mechanism which adjusts changes in the activeness of interneurons.

The interneurons nerve cells are kind of controller cells. In the nervous system of a newborn they promote the creation of nerve cell contacts, and on the other hand they prevent premature rhythmic activity of neural networks. During development the controlling role will change, and the result is that the neural network becomes more efficiently rhythmic. This can be seen, for example, in the strengthening of the EEG signal during sleep.

The mechanism adjusting the activity of the interneurons is related to the development phase which prepares the brain to process and handle information needed later in life. The finding may also offer more detailed means to intervene in the electric disorders of developing neural networks, such as epilepsy.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Segerstrale, J. Juuri, F. Lanore, P. Piepponen, S. E. Lauri, C. Mulle, T. Taira. High Firing Rate of Neonatal Hippocampal Interneurons Is Caused by Attenuation of Afterhyperpolarizing Potassium Currents by Tonically Active Kainate Receptors. Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 30 (19): 6507 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4856-09.2010

Cite This Page:

University of Helsinki. "Mechanism found that prepares the a newborn's brain for information processing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514094832.htm>.
University of Helsinki. (2010, May 16). Mechanism found that prepares the a newborn's brain for information processing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514094832.htm
University of Helsinki. "Mechanism found that prepares the a newborn's brain for information processing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514094832.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

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