The brain consists mainly of neurons, right? Wrong. There are nine times as many glial cells in our gray matter as there are neurons. For 50 years, neuroscientists have maintained that glia merely provide support services to neurons: warding off pathogens, maintaining a healthy ion balance around the neurons and insulating them from electrical interference.
But recent work indicates that glia are intimately involved in all aspects of our brain's information processing. Not only do glia talk with neurons, they communicate among themselves, aiding and abetting how our brains react, learn and remember. Understanding more about how glia function may greatly alter our model of how the brain and mind work.
This article was originally published with the title The Forgotten Brain Emerges.