A new function performed by nearly half of brain cells
How astrocytes interact with neurons, which are fundamental cells of the brain and nervous system that receive input from the outside world. Through a complex set of electrical and chemical signaling, neurons transmit information between different areas of the brain and between the brain and the rest of the nervous system.

Until now, scientists believed astrocytes were important, but lesser cast members in this activity. Astrocytes guide the growth of axons, the long, slender projection of a neuron that conducts electrical impulses. They also control neurotransmitters, chemicals that enable the transfer of electrical signals throughout the brain and nervous system. In addition, astrocytes build the blood-brain barrier and react to injury.

Neurons are very electrically active, and the new technology allows us to see that astrocytes are electrically active, as well. The electrical activity of astrocytes changes how neurons function. A new way that two of the most important cells in the brain talk to each other. Because there is so much unknown about how the brain works, discovering new fundamental processes that control brain function is key to developing novel treatments for neurological diseases.

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-022-01049-x
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