The function of neurons in a mouse’s brain isn’t as fixed as you might think. When they’re young, neurons can switch role, literally rewiring the brain—and in this image of a slice of brain, the yellow spots are neurons that have done just that.
As New Scientist points out, “neurons normally responsible for interpreting sound or touch, for example, can swap senses while they are maturing, taking on vision instead.” In fact, a team from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, has now shown that the process is controlled by a protein called Lhx2, which can switch genes on and off to control the process. It’s thought that understanding the function of that protein might help develop new medications for use in humans when brain function goes amiss. [PNAS via New Scientist]
Image by Andreas Zembrzycki/Salk Institute