The brain has a sometimes surprising capacity to adapt to the constantly changing environment. This plasticity can make it possible to recover abilities after brain injury or to learn a new task or language. The brain adapts by rewiring existing neural networks and forming new ones to acquire new functional properties.
January’s Image of the Month, which was created by Brandon Pekarek in Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel‘s lab and made the cover of the Nov./Dec. issue of Genes & Development, shows stylized adult-born neurons highlighting their dense and far-reaching dendritic arbors. These neurons are key to maintaining sensory plasticity and adaptability throughout the adult life.
Congratulations to the team on making the cover!
The Arenkiel lab at Baylor College of Medicine and the Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital has been investigating what drives the development and integration of adult-born neurons into existing circuitry, something that happens on the order of tens of thousands per day.
The paper by Pekarek, Arenkiel et al and published in Genes & Development, shows that the neuropeptide oxytocin is necessary for development and synaptic integration of adult-born neurons in the mouse olfactory bulb. They show that the oxytocin receptor drives morphological and synaptic development by regulating the expression of proteins and transcription factors necessary for synaptic maturation throughout adult-born neuron development.
Would you like to know more? Read From the Labs post ‘Oxytocin drives development of neural connections in adult-born neurons.’