General, Research, Technology

Conscious neurons detected

Over the last century neurophysiologyhas advanced far, however, the way most brain functions work is still a mystery. But, it is quite possible that one secret associated with the human nervous system has become less. Indeed, recently a group of scientists from the United States discovered neurons that support the excitation of the central nervous system. Or, if simpler, they are responsible for supporting and, so to speak, the “work” of our consciousness.

According to the publication Proceedings of the NationalThe Academy of Sciences, a group of researchers from Rockefeller University, studying the structure of neurons in the reticular formation, stumbled on not quite ordinary CNS cells. First, let us explain what the reticular formation is. This is part of the brain stem - the formation that connects the brain and spinal cord, hence the name. The reticular formation is responsible for the activation of the cortex, cortical functions and exercises control over the reflex activity of the spinal cord (as it is partially located here). In addition, the reticular formation influences emotional behavior, plays a role in the learning and memorization process, regulates the phases of deep sleep, and so on.

There is a formation in the reticular formation undercalled Giant Cellular Nucleus (NGC). Studying it and using the retro-TRAP technology (if simplified - the study of blood vessels), experts found that in NGC neurons, gene expression occurs in which endothelial nitric oxide synthetase (eNOS) is produced. This is an enzyme that produces nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, which increases blood flow to tissues.

It is worth noting that none of the known speciesNeurons do not produce eNOS, and NGC cells are located very close to the blood vessels, which allows them to "control and excite themselves." This allowed scientists to conclude that they are of decisive importance in maintaining the excitation of the central nervous system and constantly maintaining consciousness “in good shape”. According to Donald Praff, head of the Rockefeller University Laboratory of Neurobiology and Behavior,

“We believe that since these neurons need more oxygen and glucose, they release nitric oxide in the nearest vessels, which supports their work.”