Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using human brain cells to make mice smarter

Date:
March 7, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
What happens when human brain cells that surround and support neurons are implanted into the brains of newborn mice? Researchers recently found that such mice had enhanced learning and memory when compared with normal mice that hadn't received the transplanted human cells. The findings indicate that these supportive cells, called glia, play an important role in human cognition.

What happens when human brain cells that surround and support neurons are implanted into the brains of newborn mice? Researchers reporting in the March 7th issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Stem Cell recently found that such mice had enhanced learning and memory when compared with normal mice that hadn’t received the transplanted human cells. The findings indicate that these supportive cells, called glia, play an important role in human cognition.
Credit: Cell Stem Cell, Han et al.

What happens when human brain cells that surround and support neurons are implanted into the brains of newborn mice? Researchers reporting in the March 7th issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Stem Cell recently found that such mice had enhanced learning and memory when compared with normal mice that hadn't received the transplanted human cells. The findings indicate that these supportive cells, called glia, play an important role in human cognition.

Related Articles


As the human brain evolved, glia became much larger and more varied than those in the brains of rodents. Glia do not conduct electrical impulses like neurons do, but they can modulate neural activity, leading researchers to wonder how these evolutionary changes have benefited humans.

"To assess the species-specific contribution of glia to neural processing and plasticity and the specific advantages, if any, of human glia in cognition, we grafted human glial progenitor cells into the brains of newborn mice and then waited for the mice to grow to adulthood," explains Dr. Steve Goldman, who together with his collaborator Dr. Maiken Nedergaard directs the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "We then assessed both neurophysiological and behavioral measures of learning and memory, finding that the engrafted mice exhibited more rapid learning of both conditioned associations and goal-directed tasks." The neuronal connections within their brains also demonstrated characteristics of enhanced learning.

These findings indicate that human glia differ functionally from those of rodents and that they contribute significantly to learning. "As such, our findings suggest that the evolution of human cognition may reflect the development of human-specific glial form and function," says Dr. Goldman.

In a parallel study published in the journal in early February, Dr. Goldman and his team reported that they could efficiently generate glial progenitor cells from human skin cells reprogrammed into induced pluripotent cells. As a result, the researchers can now establish glial progenitor cells on a patient-specific basis from individuals with brain diseases, including a number of neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders that are relatively specific to humans. By implanting these cells into mice as they did in this most recent study, the investigators can assess the role of glial cells in these disorders, as well as test different treatment strategies that target abnormal glial function. They are currently carrying out these experiments with cells from patients with schizophrenia and Huntington's disease.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Han et al. Forebrain engraftment by human glial progenitor cells enhances synaptic plasticity and learning in adult mice. Cell Stem Cell, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2012.12.015

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Using human brain cells to make mice smarter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307123947.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, March 7). Using human brain cells to make mice smarter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307123947.htm
Cell Press. "Using human brain cells to make mice smarter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130307123947.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. 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:

More Coverage


Support Cells Found in Human Brain Make Mice Smarter

Mar. 7, 2013 Glial cells -- a family of cells found in the human central nervous system and, until recently, considered mere "housekeepers" -- now appear to be essential to the unique complexity of the ... read more

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