Medical research

Do children's brains really get thinner?

The brains of young children get thinner as they grow. At least that's what scientists used to believe. For decades, the debate has been about how and why that happens. Now, an international collaboration of leading neuroscientists ...

Neuroscience

How nerves may lose their insulation

Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is the most common inherited disorder of the peripheral nerves in humans, affecting 1 in every 2,500 people. There is no cure for the disease, which causes severe disability due to disruptions ...

Neuroscience

First step to induce self-repair in the central nervous system

Damaged peripheral nerves can regenerate after an injury, for example, following a forearm fracture. Axons, the long projections of neurons that transmit stimuli or signals to other cells, are affected in the case of injury ...

Neuroscience

Listening in to brain communications, without surgery

Plenty of legitimate science – plus a whole lot of science fiction – discusses ways to "hack the brain." What that really means, most of the time – even in the fictional examples – involves surgery, opening the skull ...

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Myelin

Myelin is a dielectric (electrically insulating) material that forms a layer, the myelin sheath, usually around only the axon of a neuron. It is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Myelin is an outgrowth of a type of glial cell. The production of the myelin sheath is called myelination. In humans, the production of myelin begins in the fourteenth week of fetal development, although little myelin exists in the brain at the time of birth. During infancy, myelination occurs quickly and continues through the adolescent stages of life.

Schwann cells supply the myelin for peripheral neurons, whereas oligodendrocytes, specifically of the interfascicular type, myelinate the axons of the central nervous system. Myelin is considered a defining characteristic of the (gnathostome) vertebrates, but myelin-like sheaths have also arisen by parallel evolution in some invertebrates, although they are quite different from vertebrate myelin at the molecular level. Myelin was discovered in 1854 by Rudolf Virchow.

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