neurons in the brain

Adult Brain Repair Pathway And New Cell-Type Discovered

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown brain cell-type that directly instructs stem cells to produce new neurons.  Although the work is still in it’s early stages, the research implies that the adult brain is capable of restoring itself following injury.

The new cells have been found in the subventricular zone of the adult (mouse) brain, and they release an enzyme called choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), which eventually goes on to help make acetylcholine.

By ‘accelerating’ and ‘decelerating’ the impulse frequency of these newly discovered neurons, they observed clear changes in the production of neural stem cells in the brain.

“We have been working to determine how neurogenesis is sustained in the adult brain. It is very unexpected and exciting to uncover this hidden gateway, a neural circuit that can directly instruct the stem cells to make more immature neurons,”
– Chay Kuo M.D. – Lead Researcher, Duke University, Durham, NC

It is hoped that by understanding these repair pathways, it will eventually become possible to rebuild the brain following damage.

The work was published in Nature Neuroscience at the beginning of June this year.




1. Paez-Gonzalez, P., Asrican, B., Rodriguez, E. & Kuo, C. T. Identification of distinct ChAT+ neurons and activity-dependent control of postnatal SVZ neurogenesis. Nat Neurosci advance online publication, (2014).



Breastfeeding Child

A Review of the Breastfeeding Literature Relevant to Osteopathic Practice

In 2011 Denise Cornall published “A review of the breastfeeding literature relevant to osteopathic practice“.

This paper draws upon the available research to help clarify the contribution osteopathy might make in promoting and supporting breastfeeding.

The article covers epidemiological, psychological, social and cultural factors that might influence breastfeeding prevalence and success, and a very clear explanation of the neuromuscular mechanics of suckling:

“Nutritive suckling …involves coordination between many muscles of the tongue,pharynx, hyoid, anterior cervical region, and thoracic diaphragm. In particular, electromyography demonstrates most muscle activity occurs in the suprahyoid muscle groups of breastfeeding infants…”

This paper should be required reading for any osteopath involved with supporting breast-feeding children and their mothers, and will help significantly with communication and understanding when discussing these issues with parents.

More recently, a 2013 MRI study again demonstrated the benefits of breastfeeding by linking it with improved myelination and development of key brain areas. Also, children who had breast-fed longer than a year were shown to have particularly improved development in key motor co-ordination areas of the brain.

“Positive relationships between white matter microstructure and breastfeeding duration are also exhibited in several brain regions, that are anatomically consistent with observed improvements in cognitive and behavioral performance measures.”




1. Cornall, D. A review of the breastfeeding literature relevant to osteopathic practice. Int. J. Osteopath. Med. 14, 61–66 (2011).
2. Deoni, S. C. L. et al. Breastfeeding and early white matter development: A cross-sectional study. Neuroimage 82, 77–86 (2013).

memory research chemicals being stored as memory

Finding the Messenger – memory research visualises neural pathway

When I first read this article I thought it was an April Fool. It put me in mind of previous studies by Karl S. Lashley where researchers tried to find the ‘Engram’ – a physical structure representative of a single memory – and failed. It seems that the storage of memory is non-local, i.e. distributed among a neural network involving many different regions of the brain, which is probably why Lashley’s attempt to ‘splice out’ the memory region of the cortex was unsuccessful.

The Molecular Basis of Memory Function: Tracking mRNA in Brain Cells

However, this research published in ‘Science’ has utilised up-to-date visualisation technology and builds on our understanding that Messenger RNA (mRNA) seems to be involved in the memory pathway, both in formation and retrieval.

On a personal level, this pie chart best illustrates the fickle nature of the every-day reality of memory function…still, check out the video below to see those little brain-messengers at work: