See Inside April/May 2006

Integrating Newbies

A common neurotransmitter that conveys signals among brain cells reverses its normal function to accommodate new neurons in the brain.

Since the remarkable 1998 discovery that people can grow new neurons well into old age, researchers have wanted to know how the newbies integrate themselves gracefully into existing neural networks without causing interference. Studies in embryonic rodents and monkeys suggested that the neurotransmitter GABA, which normally inhibits neurons from firing, may instead be stimulating young neurons to fire.

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