June 14, 2013

A turbocharger for nerve cells

Max Planck scientists in Göttingen have discovered a key mechanism that boosts the signalling function of neurons in the brain

Locating a car that’s blowing its horn in heavy traffic, channel-hopping between football and a thriller on TV without losing the plot, and not forgetting the start of a sentence by the time we have read to the end – we consider all of these to be normal everyday functions. They enable us to react to fast-changing circumstances and to carry out even complex activities correctly. For this to work, the neuron circuits in our brain have to be very flexible. Scientists working under the leadership of neurobiologists Nils Brose and Erwin Neher at the Max Planck Institutes of Experimental Medicine and Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen have now discovered an important molecular mechanism that turns neurons into true masters of adaptation.