Scientists think they’ve identified a previously unknown form of neural communication that self-propagates across brain tissue, and can leap wirelessly from neurons in one section of brain tissue to another – even if they’ve been surgically severed.
The discovery offers some radical new insights about the way neurons might be talking to one another, via a mysterious process unrelated to conventionally understood mechanisms, such as synaptic transmission, axonal transport, and gap junction connections.
“We don’t know yet the ‘So what?’ part of this discovery entirely,” says neural and biomedical engineer Dominique Durand from Case Western Reserve University.
“But we do know that this seems to be an entirely new form of communication in the brain, so we are very excited about this.”
Before this, scientists already knew there was more to neural communication than the above-mentioned connections that have been studied in detail, such as synaptic transmission.
For example, researchers have been aware for decades that the brain exhibits slow waves of neural oscillations whose purpose we don’t understand, but which appear in the cortex and hippocampus when we sleep, and so are hypothesised to play a part in memory consolidation. LEARN MORE HERE