Newly discovered brain cells could be key to human uniqueness

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An image of a rosehip neuron. Image credit: Tamas Lab/University of Szeged

Scientists have taken another step toward understanding what makes the human brain unique.

An international team has identified a kind of brain cell that exists in people but not mice, the team reported [August 27] in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

“This particular type of cell had properties that had never actually been described in another species,” says Ed Lein, one of the study’s authors.

The finding could help explain why many experimental treatments for brain disorders have worked in mice, but failed in people. It could also provide new clues to scientists who study human brain disorders ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to schizophrenia.

The brain cells have been named “rose hip neurons”

The finding challenges earlier evidence that the human brain is merely bigger and more sophisticated than a mouse brain. At some point, humans acquired at least one kind of brain cell that a mouse doesn’t have.

Related article:  Was a gene mutation responsible for bigger human brains?

Scientists aren’t sure exactly what rose hip cells do, though they appear to be involved in the controlling the flow of information in specific areas of the brain.

But regardless of their precise function, the discovery of rose hip neurons has implications for brain research. For one thing, “it throws some doubt on the ability to use the mouse to study certain elements of human function and disease,” Lein says.

Read full, original post: What Makes A Human Brain Unique? A Newly Discovered Neuron May Be A Clue

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