Two Iowa State University scientists have found evidence that may change beliefs about how the brain works.
Vladimir Parpura and Philip Haydon, discovered that glial cells, which were previously thought to be support cells, may have an active role alongside the neurons in the brain. By controlling calcium levels in glial cells, the scientists found evidence that the glial cells form part of the communication network of the brain.
Calcium which is found in these glial cells, also known as astrocytes, regulates glutamate release. Glutamate modulates the functions of the neurons, and is used in processes such as thought and memory. High amounts of glutamate in the brain has been linked to such conditions as stroke, head injury and epilepsy. The researchers are hoping that this may lead to new treatment in the future.