Scientists uncover details of early development of hippocampus

November 23rd, 2008 - 4:20 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 23 (ANI): Neuroscientists at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) have made a major breakthrough in brain research by uncovering a mechanism vital to the development of the hippocampusthe most important region of the brain.

Hippocampus is crucial to the formation of memories, and the lifelong production and integration of new nerve cells.

QBI’’s Associate Professor Linda Richards said that there wasnt much known about the early development of hippocampus.

In the study, the researchers were trying to find out how the brain forms during embryonic and foetal development.

And the researchers have identified a gene that regulates the development of glial cells in the hippocampus. The study showed that the hippocampus contains different populations of glial cells that are essential for the structural integrity of the hippocampus.

“Glial cells are an important part of the building blocks of the brain,” said Richards.

She added: “They provide an essential scaffold for the migration of neurons in the developing brain. It is vital we understand how glial cells provide this structural scaffold because if the hippocampus is not formed correctly it cannot perform all the functions required of it in the developing and adult brain.

“The hippocampus plays an integral role in spatial navigation, learning and memory, and is a major site for adult neurogenesis.”

It was found that mice lacking the gene that regulates glial cell differentiation exhibit major developmental irregularities, including catastrophic structural deformities of the hippocampus.

With the knowledge, researchers studying the hippocampus now have a better understanding of the genes that help control the development of this vital brain region.

Fundamental scientific knowledge of this kind is an essential step in understanding brain function and repair. (ANI)

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