Brownian thought space

Cognitive science, mostly, but more a sometimes structured random walk about things.

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Chronically curious モ..

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Glia in the nervous system

In a previous post I was wondering about the glial cells. Glial cells outnumber neurons 10-1 in the brain. The traditional view has been that glia are support cells, feeding and nourishing the real computing babies, the neurons. But, as even wikipedia says, the only noticeable difference is that they don't produce action potentials. And a recent review* in Current Opinions in Neurobiology has this to say:
Studies of C. elegans have revealed a connection between glial ensheathment of neurons and tubulogenesis, have uncovered glial roles in neurite growth, navigation, and function, and have demonstrated roles for glia and glia-like cells in synapse formation and function.
That's some more reason to think that simply considering the neurons for computing might be plain wrong. And what about stuff like input-driven plasticity? What role do glia play in that? I think it's too early to say, but it's not so far-fetched to imagine that glia might actuallyplay a role in setting up the initial structures in the brain...

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