Neuroscientists have discovered a unique form of cellular exchange in the human brain that has never been seen before. This discovery suggests that the brain may be a more powerful information processing organ than the researchers had assumed. The findings of the experts are published in the journal Science.
Last year, German and Greek scientists reported on the mechanism by which new “smooth” signals are generated uniquely in the external cells of the cerebral cortex. This can provide another way for individual neurons to perform logical functions. By measuring the electrical activity of tissue sections excised during surgery in patients with epilepsy, and analyzing their structure using a fluorescent microscope, neurologists noticed that individual cells in the cerebral cortex use not only sodium ions but also calcium.
This combination of positively charged ions created a voltage wave, the so-called calcium-induced dendrite action potentials, or dCaAP. In neurons, the signal has the form of waves that open and close channels. Charged particles — sodium, chloride, and potassium-are exchanged through them. This pulse of flowing ions has an action potential. Neurons chemically control these communications at the end of branches, dendrites.
The scientists also injected the so-called sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin into the cells. But even at the same time, they detected a signal. Only the blocking of calcium could slow down the process. More research is needed to see how dCaAP works in all neurons and biological systems. Scientists also intend to find out whether the type of intercellular signal belongs to humans or similar mechanisms have developed in someone else in the animal world.