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Short circuit in the brain

Breaks in the brain may also be triggered by a kind of short circuit as Freiburg researchers could now show (May 2012).

Every day, the brain provides us with enormous services, for example, when recalling detailed memories of past events or taking important decisions ​​based on knowledge and experience. To master such tasks, the neurons in the brain must keep tight and temporally precise balance between activity and resting phases. When this balance is disturbed, neurological disorders such as epilepsy or schizophrenia may be the consequence.

Excitatory neurons that send out signals that move the electric potential of the recipient cells into a positive direction are responsible for activity. So-called inhibitory interneurons, in contrast, provide the brain with breaks. Until now, scientists assumed that they cause a blockage by changing the voltage of the target cell in a negative direction.

A research team around Marlene Bartos (Bernstein Center and University of Freiburg) found that interneurons can also inhibit their target cells in a second way. The researchers discovered that neurons may also cause an electrical short circuit, so that the target cells are not susceptible to excitatory signals for a short period. The scientists now published their research results in "The Journal of Neuroscience".

Read more in the complete report by the Volkswagen Foundation (in German).

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