AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Brain Plasticity: How Adult-born Neurons Get Wired-in

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New cells compete to ‘win’ synapse connections away from old cells, promoting network plasticity 

One goal in neurobiology is to understand how the flow of electrical signals through brain circuits gives rise to perception, action, thought, learning and memories. Linda Overstreet-Wadiche, PhD, and Jacques Wadiche, PhD, both associate professors in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Neurobiology, have published their latest contribution in this effort, focused on a part of the brain that helps form memories — the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. The dentate gyrus is one of just two areas in the brain where new neurons are continuously formed in adults. When a new granule cell neuron is made in the dentate gyrus, it needs to get ‘wired in,’ by forming synapses, or connections, in order to contribute to circuit function. Dentate granule cells are part of a circuit that receive electrical signals from the entorhinal cortex, a cortical brain region that processes sensory and spatial input from other areas of the brain. By combining this sensory and spatial information, the dentate gyrus can generate a unique memory of an experience. 

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