About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Research Says Human Cognition Depends Upon Slow-Firing Neurons

by Kathy Jones on February 21, 2013 at 8:25 PM
Font : A-A+

 Research Says Human Cognition Depends Upon Slow-Firing Neurons

Our ability to store and manipulate thoughts influences good mental health and capacity for clear thinking.

In a new study, Yale School of Medicine researchers describe the molecular basis of this ability — the hallmark of human cognition — and describe how a breakdown of the system contributes to diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease.

Advertisement

"Insults to these highly evolved cortical circuits impair the ability to create and maintain our mental representations of the world, which is the basis of higher cognition," said Amy Arnsten, professor of neurobiology and senior author of the paper published in the Feb. 20 issue of the journal Neuron.

High-order thinking depends upon our ability to generate mental representations in our brains without any sensory stimulation from the environment. These cognitive abilities arise from highly evolved circuits in the prefrontal cortex. Mathematical models by former Yale neurobiologist Xiao-Jing Wang, now of New York University, predicted that in order to maintain these visual representations the prefrontal cortex must rely on a family of receptors that allow for slow, steady firing of neurons. The Yale scientists show that NMDA-NR2B receptors involved in glutamate signaling regulate this neuronal firing. These receptors, studied at Yale for more than a decade, are responsible for activity of highly evolved brain circuits found especially in primates.
Advertisement

Earlier studies have shown these types of NMDA receptors are often altered in patients with schizophrenia. The Neuron study suggests that those suffering from the disease may be unable to hold onto a stable view of the world. Also, these receptors seem to be altered in Alzheimer's patients, which may contribute to the cognitive deficits of dementia.

The lab of Dr. John Krystal, chair of the department of psychiatry at Yale, has found that the anesthetic ketamine, abused as a street drug, blocks NMDA receptors and can mimic some of the symptoms of schizophrenia. The current study in Neuron shows that ketamine may reduce the firing of the same higher-order neural circuits that are decimated in schizophrenia.

"Identifying the receptor needed for higher cognition may help us to understand why certain genetic insults lead to cognitive impairment and will help us to develop strategies for treating these debilitating disorders," Arnsten said.



Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Advertisement
News Category
What's New on Medindia
International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021 - Fighting for Rights in the Post-COVID Era
Effect of Blood Group Type on COVID-19 Risk and Severity
Woman with Rare Spinal Cord Defect from Birth Sues Doctor
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Parkinsons Disease Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Dyspraxia 

Recommended Reading
Brain Exercises to Improve Memory
An active brain can certainly help in improving memory by strengthening the connections between ......
Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting memory and thinking and ......
Undetected Nutrient Deficiencies: The Cause of Ill Health
Micronutrient and antioxidant deficiencies are most common and go unnoticed. They are the root ......
Vitamin B12 - An Essential Vitamin
If you feel that the persistent or regular incidences of depression have got nothing to do with ......
Dyspraxia
Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulty in controlling the muscles, leadin...
Parkinsons Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by progressive dopamine brain cells loss. ...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use