Penn Researchers Model a Key Breaking Point Involved in Traumatic Brain Injury

Their recent findings shed new light on the mechanical properties of a critical brain protein and its role in the elasticity of axons, the long, tendril-like part of brain cells. This protein, known as tau, helps explain the apparent contradiction this elasticity presents. If axons are so stretchy, why do they break under the strain of a traumatic brain injury?

Fruit fly’s pruning protein could be key to treating brain injury

This research could also potentially impact how science and healthcare think about and treat brain injuries, Kuo said. Currently, damaged neurons that have lost their dendrites are unable to properly communicate with their neighbors, rendering them nonfunctional. The problem could be reversed, he said, by helping neurons modify their original developmental program and regrow new dendrites.

The Unexpected Power of Baby Math

The findings, a significant step forward in understanding how people process numbers, could contribute to the development of methods to more effectively educate or treat children with learning disabilities and people with brain injuries.

Brain regions ‘tune’ activity to enable attention

Attention deficits in brain injury have been thought of as a loss of the resources needed to concentrate on a task. However, this study shows that temporal alignment of responses in different brain areas is also a very important mechanism that contributes to attention and could be impaired by brain injury.

Neuron regeneration may help sufferers of brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers at Penn State have developed an innovative technology to regenerate functional neurons after brain injury and also in model systems used for research on Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists have used supporting cells of the central nervous system, glial cells, to regenerate healthy, functional neurons, which are critical for transmitting signals in the brain.

New Theory of Synapse Formation in the Brain

Jülich neuroinformatician Dr. Markus Butz has now been able to ascribe the formation of new neural networks in the visual cortex to a simple homeostatic rule that is also the basis of many other self-regulating processes in nature. With this explanation, he and his colleague Dr. Arjen van Ooyen from Amsterdam also provide a new theory on the plasticity of the brain – and a novel approach to understanding learning processes and treating brain injuries and diseases.