Washington, December 3 : Ever wondered why underlies our ability to remember important information and to forget irrelevant details? Well, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried attribute it to the flexibility of the nerve cell's communication units, called synapses.
A synapse is a point at which electrical signals move from one nerve cell to another.
Scientists have long thought that only the receiving side of a synapse plays an active role in the reorganization of the brain, which is thought to underlie our ability to learn but also to forget.
However, the Max Planck team have found that the transmitting terminal of a nerve cell's synapse is also highly adaptable.
Not only the receiving, but also the transmitting terminal of a nerve cell's synapse is higly adaptable
The researchers have revealed that the neurotransmitter-releasing part of a synapse dramatically remodels itself in response to electrical stimulation, and thus may make a decisive contribution to the adaptability of the brain to ever-changing environments.
The researchers say that it is only when the transmission terminals and the receiver stations are in the right proportion to each other can communication actually take place in the brain.
The team claim that they are the first research group to successfully observe both the receiver side and the transmitter terminal of a synapse over an extended period of time.
A research article on their work has been published in the journal Neuron.