Brain thickness influence on cells points to better understanding of circuitry, function: research

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-22 08:00:43|Editor: mmm
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SYDNEY, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- The thickness of the brain's outer layer influences how its individual nerve cells process information, a discovery that sheds new light on the major organ's circuitry and function, according to latest Australian research.

The outer layer of the brain is made up of many small "microcircuits" of brain cells, each consisting of about 10,000 neurons interacting in a space as small as 1 square millimeter in line with a longstanding theory that they function and interact in a standard way, the University of Queensland said in a statement about its study on Thursday.

Using high-resolution MRI imaging of rodent brains, its researchers analyzed the organ's outer layer and found that the thickness gradually increased up to threefold from back to front, according to the university. They also found that the thickness of the outer layer directly related to the length of the individual cells.

A neuron in a thicker area of the brain was more elongated than a neuron in a thinner area, said the researchers.

The thickness was seen to govern "not only the anatomical structure of neurons, but also their electrical properties", said university researcher Lee Fletcher.

The findings, published in scientific journal Neuron, challenge foundation theories of the brain's operation and "set the stage for future research into how networks of these brain circuits operate", said the university's Professor Stephen Williams.

The next step is to explore how these differences drive cognition and behavior, said Fletcher.