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Researchers report significant differences between human and other mammalian neurons

پژوهشگران از تفاوت چشمگیر میان نورون‌های انسان و سایر پستانداران خبر می‌دهند

Neurons communicate with each other through electrical impulses generated by ion channels and can control the flow of ions such as potassium and sodium. In a surprising new finding, MIT neuroscientists have shown that human neurons have far fewer of these channels than neurons in other mammals.

researchers They assume This decrease in neuronal density may have contributed to the development of the human brain. This reduction helps the brain to function more efficiently and divert resources to other energy-intensive processes needed to perform complex cognitive tasks.

“If the brain can save energy by reducing the density of ion channels, it can use that energy for other neural processes,” said Mark Harnett, an associate professor of brain and cognitive science and a member of the McGovern MIT Institute for Brain Research.

Harnett and colleagues analyzed the neurons of 10 different mammals, the most extensive electrophysiological study of their kind, and identified a structural design that applies to all species except humans. They found that as the size of the neurons increased, the density of the channels in the neurons increased. However, human neurons are exceptional in this structure.

Mammalian brain neurons can receive electrical signals from thousands of other cells, and this input determines whether they produce an electrical impulse called a potential. In 2018, Harnett and students in this group discovered that human and mouse neurons in some electrical properties – especially in parts of a neuron called dendrites, which are antennas that look like tree branches and receive and process the inputs of other cells. They are different from each other.

In this new study, they were able to compare the neurons of several different mammalian species with the aim of finding a pattern for ion channels. They studied two types of channels, potassium and HCN – which conduct both potassium and sodium.

The researchers found that humans are the only creatures that do not increase the density of ion channels in their brains as the size of neurons increases. In humans, the density of ion channels was much lower than scientists expected.

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