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Human Brain Cells Boost Mouse Memory Human Brain Cells Boost Mouse Memory - ScienceNOW

Human Brain Cells Boost Mouse Memory Human Brain Cells Boost Mouse Memory - ScienceNOW

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4/24/13 Human Brain Cells Boost Mouse Memory - ScienceNOW news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2013/03/human-brain-cells-boost-mouse-me.html?ref=hp 1/2 ENLARGE IM AGE Brain gain. Human astrocytes (green) are significantly larger than mouse astrocytes (red) and retain their distinctive structure w hen grafted into the mouse brain. Credit: Image Courtesy of Steve Goldman and Maiken Nedergaard Mice transplanted with a once-discounted class of human brain cells have better memories and learning abilities than normal counterparts, according to a new study. Far from a way to engineer smarter rodents, the work suggests that human brain evolution involved a major upgrade to cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes are one of several types of glia, the other cells found alongside neurons in the nervous system. Although long thought to merely provide support and nourishment for neurons, it's now clear that astrocytes are vital for proper brain function. They are produced during development from stem cells called glial progenitors. In 2009, Steven Goldman of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York and his colleagues reported that human astrocytes are bigger, and have about 10 times as many fingerlike projections that contact other brain cells and blood vessels, than those of mice. To further investigate these differences, they have more recently grafted fluorescently labeled human glial progenitors into the brains of newborn mice and examined the animals when they reached adulthood. Most of the grafted cells remained as progenitors, but some matured into typical human-looking astrocytes. They connected to their mouse counterparts to form astrocyte networks that transmitted electrical signals. Furthermore,
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