autism · brain · cognition · mental health · neuroscience

Gardening in the brain: Cells called microglia prune the connections between neurons, shaping how the brain is wired

Wow, speaking of mental flowers. Researchers have found that the brain has its own weeding/pruning capabilities:

Gardeners know that some trees require regular pruning: some of their branches have to be cut so that others can grow stronger. The same is true of the developing brain: cells called microglia prune the connections between neurons, shaping how the brain is wired, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory EMBL in Monterotondo, Italy, discovered. Published online in Science, the findings could one day help understand neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

Microglia are related to the white blood cells that engulf pathogens and cellular debris, and scientists knew already that microglia perform that same clean-up task when the brain is injured, ‘swallowing up’ dead and dying neurons. Looking at the developing mouse brain under the microscope, Gross and colleagues found proteins from synapses — the connections between neurons — inside microglia, indicating that microglia are able to engulf synapses too.

more via Gardening in the brain: Cells called microglia prune the connections between neurons, shaping how the brain is wired.

Now I have some high standards to live up to; making this blog act like a proverbial brain cleaner!

Original paper: European Molecular Biology Laboratory (2011, July 22). Gardening in the brain: Cells called microglia prune the connections between neurons, shaping how the brain is wired. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/07/110721142410.htm

Advertisements