According to inforadio.hu, the researchers of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Research Centre for Natural Sciences made a fundamental discovery in connection with the functioning of the nervous system. Their results can contribute to the better understanding and more effective treatment of cognitive disorders.
It has been known for a long time that sleeping betters the anamnesis, and that one of the basic consequences of the lack of sleep is the decay of the memory. From this regard, a cerebral rhythm called slow wave activity, that characterises the deepest sleeping phase, is especially important. The decrease of this activity directly obstructs the long-term fixation of the memory.
Even though the importance of the slow wave activity has been known for quite a while, no one knows how it exactly works and what causes the presence of similar conditions, like epilepsy.
The Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Organic Chemistry analysed the role of astrocytes in the process, which are star-shaped cells. Even though astrocytes are the most populous cell types in our brains, their role was underestimated for a long time. It was believed that their only task was to “keep the nerve cells alive”.
But the research of the past decades made it clear that they also control the functioning of nerve cells as well as highly influence the activity of the location of the information transmission between cells.
Therefore, László Héja and the colleagues of the Hungarian research team assumed that astrocytes don’t only influence the network functioning of nerve cells on an individual level, but also on a higher level, and they were able to prove this.
With the help of rat experiments, they proved that astrocytes could be the conductors of the symphony that harmonises the functioning of nerve cells. The researchers hope that their findings can contribute to the better understanding and more effective treatment of cognitive disorders and dementia.