Astrocytes – Stars that light up the mind

On the trawl through journals and books looking for info on epilepsy related neurological information I stumbled across an article in scientific American mind about research into the white matter of the brain. It mentions that people with epilepsy have more Astrocytes (research has shown). The article also postulates their link with Breathing – an interesting coincidence since I have found breathing exercises so useful. I can’t find the exact article but I think this one is from the same issue. I will go through my old issues to find the right article for reference if anyone is interested.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=astrocytes-breathing

This area of the brain has been largely neglected by scientists until relatively recently because everyone was much more excited about neurons. The neurons were much more easily visible and understood as the wiring that messages travels along.

A bit like space where the stars are the most visible matter and no one realised there was dark matter as well.

Ecitingly, TED posted a lecture on the subject which shines a light on what research techniques are used to find out how Astrocytes work.

http://www.ted.com/talks/ed_boyden.html

They are using fluorescent proteins from alga which is transferred into cells as part of a virus which turns on luminescence ability in a cell.

The researcher also explains that he is using this method in epilepsy and other neurological research, but that in epilepsy Astrocytes are overactive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrocyte

I consider these research sources really valuable in relation to my understanding of epilepsy.

If you think about it this could mean WE ARE ALL STARS! 🙂 I hope you find these little rays of light interesting reading and watching.

On a more sinister note the lecture does end up talking about the brain as a computer!

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