The work of "defender" cells can lead to cognitive impairment?

The authors of the study conducted experiments in mice. It is known that if animals at an early age lose vision in one eye, neural connections in the brain are reorganized, adapting to changes in incoming visual information. Studying the brains of mice deprived of the ability to see with one eye at an early age, scientists found that microglia cells physically removed some neuronal connections, "disconnecting" neurons from each other, leaving other links untouched. Similarly, these cells act by reacting to infection or brain damage - they are immediately activated, they find the way to the affected area and remove dead or infected tissues without touching the healthy ones.

The researchers also found that when the so-called P2Y12 receptor was turned off, microglial cells ceased to remove neural connections.

These results can clarify the mechanisms of the development of diseases that cause sensory and cognitive impairments - in particular, schizophrenia, dementia, various types of autism.Probably, in these cases microglial cells either do not "cut off" neural connections, or, on the contrary, break the wrong connections. This can be due to genetic disorders or infections, to fight against which all immune cells are mobilized, which leaves them unable to engage in the "cleaning" of unnecessary neural connections.

For more details, see G. Sipe et al. "Microglial P2Y12 is necessary for synaptic plasticity in mouse visual cortex", Nature Communications, March 2016.

Read also The brain can sleep "in parts"The brain can sleep "in parts"

It is believed that the brain either sleeps or is awake. However, neurophysiologists managed to find a mechanism capable of "lulling" certain parts of the brain, while the rest of his areas are not asleep, but are awake.

The Chess Player's Brain: What are its advantages?The Chess Player's Brain: What are its advantages?

When a grandmaster easily defeats a dozen opponents in a simultaneous game, it's amazing. And although most of us are unlikely to reach this level, chess lessons will benefit any player and at any age.

Text: Nikolay Protsenko
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