Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unexpected discovery reveals a new mechanism for how the cerebellum extracts signal from noise

Date:
March 21, 2012
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
New research has demonstrated the novel expression of an ion channel in Purkinje cells -- specialized neurons in the cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for movement.

Researchers have identified the novel expression of an ion channel in neurons of the brain. Research at the HBI has demonstrated the novel expression of an ion channel in Purkinje cells -- specialized neurons in the cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for movement.

Dr. Ray W. Turner, Professor in the Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy and PhD student Jordan Engbers and colleagues published this finding in the January edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

This research identifies for the first time that an ion channel called KCa3.1 that was not previously believed to be expressed in the brain is actually present in Purkinje cells. In addition, these researchers demonstrate the mechanism by which this ion channel allows Purkinje cells to filter sensory input in order to coordinate the body's movements.

The discovery was unexpected, as Engbers explains, "we didn't specifically go looking for this channel. A lot of time was spent trying to identify the source for an electrical current that we were observing and we finally found ourselves asking 'what evidence is there that KCa3.1 isn't in the brain?' So we ran some tests and all the pieces really fell into place."

In the cerebellum, sensory input activates neurons called Purkinje cells that have to filter the information and respond only to relevant inputs to produce an appropriate movement response. Although this function of Purkinje cells has been well documented, Engbers and Turner take our understanding a step further by demonstrating that the KCa3.1 ion channel plays a key part in this process -- acting as a gatekeeper to filter the enormous amount of incoming information.

As Dr. Turner explains, "these cells receive hundreds of thousands of signals every second from the body's sensory systems. KCa3.1 then allows the cells to filter out the background noise and respond to only the three or four inputs that are particularly relevant."

Engbers further describes the mechanism by which KCa3.1 filters out the unwanted information, "these channels are activated by an influx of calcium, which generates an inhibitory influence until the correct input is detected. Once the appropriate input is detected, the Purkinje cell responds with a burst of nerve impulses, which in turn initiates the proper motor response."

This research fills a substantial gap in understanding how neurons in the cerebellum process information. Engbers and Turner expect that continued research will identify KCa3.1 in other areas of the brain and that it will be responsible for several still unexplained phenomena observed in neuronal recordings.

"What we have found will help us understand how the cerebellum functions normally. Now that we have shown the scientific community this new information, we expect that it will become clear that KCa3.1 plays a much wider role in brain function," says Engbers.

This research was supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), studentships through both Alberta Innovates -- Health Solutions (AI-HS) and the T. Chen Fong Awards at the HBI and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Award.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. J. D. T. Engbers, D. Anderson, H. Asmara, R. Rehak, W. H. Mehaffey, S. Hameed, B. E. McKay, M. Kruskic, G. W. Zamponi, R. W. Turner. Intermediate conductance calcium-activated potassium channels modulate summation of parallel fiber input in cerebellar Purkinje cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; 109 (7): 2601 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1115024109

Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "Unexpected discovery reveals a new mechanism for how the cerebellum extracts signal from noise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120321091506.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2012, March 21). Unexpected discovery reveals a new mechanism for how the cerebellum extracts signal from noise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120321091506.htm
University of Calgary. "Unexpected discovery reveals a new mechanism for how the cerebellum extracts signal from noise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120321091506.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
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