CALIFORNIA: A family of stem cell that may give birth to neurons responsible for abstract thought and creativity has been identified by scientists in embryonic mice.
The cells formed the upper layers of the brain’s cerebral cortex.
In mammals, the cerebral cortex is built in onion-like layers of varying thickness. Higher thinking functions are seated in the larger upper layers, which, in evolutionary terms, are the “newest” parts of the brain.
Previously it was thought that radial glial cells (RGCs) gave rise to both the layers of cortical neurons.
The new research shows that the upper layer neurons develop from a distinct population of diverse stem cells.
Dr Santos Franco, a member of the US team from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, said that the research answers the issue of how all the different neuronal cell types needed for advanced functions like consciousness, thought and creativity is produced in the cortex.
The new research is reported in the journal Science.
Growing the stem cells in the laboratory could pave the way to better treatments for brain disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.