Our brains are constantly trying to stay in balance?between too much and too little nerve activity. When they become unbalanced, this leads to disorders like schizophrenia and autism. If we could just find that neuron "switch," maybe we could turn it off.
In the Scientific American website, Susannah F. Locke quotes neurobiologist Michael Greenberg as saying, "Nobody has [found] a gene that controls the process in quite that way before." But he thinks HE has: a gene called Npas4.
But not everybody agrees that switching off Npas4 will solve the problem. Locke quotes neurobiologist Gina Turrigiano as saying that Greenberg's study reveals a "pretty intriguing potential pathway" for controlling neuronal activity. But she says that while mice without Npas4 can survive, they are prone to seizures and have a shorter life span than normal mice. This may not be a successful trade-off for humans.
Art credit: freeimages.co.uk
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