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The Adult Brain Retains 'Fetal' Neurons

Subplate neurons -- once thought to die after directing the wiring of the cerebral cortex or gray matter-- remain in the white matter of the adult brain in small numbers and maintain activity, communicating with other neurons in the brain said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham in a report that appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The finding -- that approximately 10 percent of the cells survive and have functional connections -- opens the door to new ways of thinking about fixing injured brains, said Dr. Michael Friedlander, chair of the department of neuroscience at BCM, and senior author of the paper. "Since those cells are critical elements that guided the wiring of the brain's cerebral cortex in the first place, maybe we could tap into that ability later on."

However, he emphasized that this just a hypothesis and has yet to be proven. Friedlander credits an M.D./Ph.D. student of his, Dr. Juan Torres-Reveron, with coming up with the notion that the surviving subplate neurons are electrically active and in chemical communication with their neighbors and then proving it in the laboratory. Torres-Reveron received his M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine and his Ph.D. from UAB. He is now a neurosurgical resident at Yale University School of Medicine.

Click here to see the rest of this article in Medical News Today

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