Neuroscience

Star-shaped brain cells may be linked to stuttering

Astrocytes—star-shaped cells in the brain that are actively involved in brain function—may play an important role in stuttering, a study led by a University of California, Riverside, expert on stuttering has found.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Study links brain cells to depression

A new study further highlighting a potential physiological cause of clinical depression could guide future treatment options for this serious mental health disorder. Published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, researchers show ...

Medical research

Epilepsy research focused on astrocytes

During epileptic seizures, a large number of nerve cells in the brain fire excessively and in synchrony. This hyperactivity may lead to uncontrolled shaking of the body and involve periods of loss of consciousness. While ...

Neuroscience

Astrocytes eat connections to maintain plasticity in adult brains

Developing brains constantly sprout new neuronal connections called synapses as they learn and remember. Important connections—the ones that are repeatedly introduced, such as how to avoid danger—are nurtured and reinforced, ...

Neuroscience

Researchers explore why some MS patients experience seizures

A research team at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine has identified a pathway involving astrocytes, a class of central nervous system support cells, that could shed light on why seizures happen in ...

Neuroscience

Neuroregenerative gene therapy

Spinal cord injury (SCI) often causes disability and seriously compromises quality of life. While decades of research have made significant progress in axonal regeneration after SCI, most of the interventions have not been ...

Medical research

Astrocytes improve decision-making

Decision-making during goal-directed behaviors is deliberative process involving different brain areas that considers pros and cons of each option. These cognitive operations in humans and animals are crucially supported ...

Neuroscience

New mechanism of pain control revealed

Researchers in Japan have revealed a previously unknown mechanism for pain control involving a newly identified group of cells in the spinal cord, offering a potential target for enhancing the therapeutic effect of drugs ...

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Astrocyte

Astrocytes (etymology: astron gk. star, cyte gk. cell), also known collectively as astroglia, are characteristic star-shaped glial cells in the brain and spinal cord. They perform many functions, including biochemical support of endothelial cells that form the blood–brain barrier, provision of nutrients to the nervous tissue, maintenance of extracellular ion balance, and a role in the repair and scarring process of the brain and spinal cord following traumatic injuries.

Research since the mid-1990s has shown that astrocytes propagate intercellular Ca2+ waves over long distances in response to stimulation, and, similar to neurons, release transmitters (called gliotransmitters) in a Ca2+-dependent manner. Data suggest that astrocytes also signal to neurons through Ca2+-dependent release of glutamate. Such discoveries have made astrocytes an important area of research within the field of neuroscience.

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