Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

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Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby DarkSEAL7 on December 17th, 2010, 1:42 pm 

Hi, i'm not necessarily aware of who this is i am speaking to, but i am emailing the address that was listed at the bottom of the page. My question is, Is there any way to develop "more" glial cells in your brain, specifically area 39, in which to increase your cognitive ability; to think better, to remember better, etc..

If there is no way to increase the number by purposeful action, whether it be by eating certain foods, or studying or think hard for a long period of time, frequently over the years...
Whatever the case may be, is there a way i can "enhance" the glial cells function of the ones i do have? Is there any way to make them more efficient? More able and brilliant like inside Einstein's brain?

I'm only curious as to if they develop or if you just get them by mere random chance when you are born. By the way, i am only 17 years of age, and i am of extremely high interest of this subject and Einstein, and i would love to learn more about as per the questions above. Thanks for your time, i'm looking forward to a response!
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby neuro on December 17th, 2010, 4:18 pm 

DarkSEAL7 wrote:My question is, Is there any way to develop "more" glial cells in your brain, specifically area 39, in which to increase your cognitive ability; to think better, to remember better, etc..

Actually, no.

"Glial" is a pretty general term, which refers to all cells in the nervous system which are not neurons: cells with a structural or support function (astrocytes), cells implied in regulating the access to the extracellular cerebral fluid of substances carried by the blood (some astrocytes), cells implied in metabolically sustaining neurons (several glial cell types), cells which form the myelin ensheating of nervous axons (oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells), cells guiding neuronal migration and axonal elongation (radial glia), cells with phagocytic, inflammatory and immune functions (microglia), cells that through several processes contribute to neuronal intercommunication (mostly astrocytes)...

In other words, it is not a matter of QUANTITY of glia: as in most aspects of Biology, the question is the right quantity, of the right type, correctly positioned, correctly regulated and correctly operating.

Sorry to break a dream of yours, but glial cells do not make you more intelligent....
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby DarkSEAL7 on December 17th, 2010, 4:47 pm 

You didn't really answer the question. I said if they didn't reproduce more rapidly as a result of eating habits, thinking habits, whatever the case, if there is a way to 'help' then along... so to speak. For example, what foods are best for them, or does thinking alot, or studying hard help enhance them to think harder for later... idk i think you should get my gist.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby DarkSEAL7 on December 17th, 2010, 4:52 pm 

And actually you are incorrect; the quantity does matter. If glia are the libraries for information storage in the brain, and assuming humans have the highest intelligence, then lower life forms should have less glia. One of the most striking research events has been the discovery of a single glial cell for every 30 neurons in the leech. This single glial cell receives neuronal sensory input and controls neuronal firing to the body. As we move up the evolutionary ladder, in a widely researched worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, glia are 16 percent of the nervous system. The fruit fly’s brain has about 20 percent glia. In rodents such as mice and rats, glia make up 60 percent of the nervous system. The nervous system of the chimpanzee has 80 percent glia, with the human at 90 percent. The ratio of glia to neurons increases with our definition of intelligence.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby Paralith on December 17th, 2010, 5:08 pm 

Hi DarkSEAL17,

As neuro mentioned, the term "glia cell" refers to a broad variety of cells with a broad variety of functions. Are you thinking of a certain type of glia cell? And since glia are non-neuronal, I don't think they store any of your brain's information. neuro can correct me if I'm wrong.

Also, I'd love to see your sources for the percentage of glia cells for different animals. That's cool stuff. However, you have to be careful assuming that the percentages are correlating specficially to intelligence. I notice that the animals in your examples are also increasing in absolute body size and in relative brain size. It may simply be that the bigger you are, and the more nueron cells that you have, the more glia cells you need in order to support those neurons.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby neuro on December 17th, 2010, 5:40 pm 

DarkSEAL7 wrote:You didn't really answer the question. I said if they didn't reproduce more rapidly as a result of eating habits, thinking habits, whatever the case, if there is a way to 'help' then along... so to speak. For example, what foods are best for them, or does thinking alot, or studying hard help enhance them to think harder for later... idk i think you should get my gist.


My answer is the same.
No, dear DarkSEAL, there is no diet that produces glial proliferation.
FORTUNATELY, I am inclined to add.
Should not like my brain to get overstuffed by glia.

Still, I'm afraid you will again say I'm incorrect, and that would make me sad once more...

However, DO think a lot, and study hard.
That appears to help (though data are not particularly solid) in keeping neurons healthy.

But, most of all, what's the use of having neurons if one does not think or study?

DarkSEAL7 wrote:And actually you are incorrect; the quantity does matter. If glia are the libraries for information storage in the brain, and assuming humans have the highest intelligence, then lower life forms should have less glia.


I guess this was for me...
And actually I WOULD BE incorrect, if glia WERE the libraries for information storage, and if your nice correlation among size, cerebral complexity and glial predominance WERE both TRUE and CAUSAL...

I bet you have been reading something about Einstein's brain displaying a higher ratio of glia to neurons, according to some posthumous anatomical study...
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby Paralith on December 17th, 2010, 5:45 pm 

neuro, could you recommend any good review papers about glial cells and their functions?
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby DarkSEAL7 on December 17th, 2010, 9:10 pm 

LOL. Thats exactly what i have been doing! I have become obsessed with Albert Einstein. So i did alot of research to see exactly why or how or even if there was something about Einstein's brain that made him significantly brighter than most. What i found, was that he had an unusual amount of glial cells in Area 39 of his brain; which is the part of the brain which is the most highly evolved site in the brain.

Lol, and your exactly right... check this site out...

http://www.rubysemporium.org/brain_longevity.html

And the case in which exact glial cell i'm talking about is besides the point. But for arguments sake, the astrocytes. I

In any case however, how exactly do you know their is no foodstuff that can help? Like i.e.. fish=brainfood... you know something of that nature, what is your source for saying there isn't? and second, would you agree that harder thinking more frequently would produce more glial cells thus a higher intellect will result? For example, an increased cognitive ability?

P.S. Not trying to stubborn or an ****, im just curious and thirsty for knowledge lol.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby DarkSEAL7 on December 17th, 2010, 9:13 pm 

and for you paralith... HEre are some good sites to educate and broaden your understanding of the glial cell and their types....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glial_cell

http://www.rubysemporium.org/brain_longevity.html

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... ought-what
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby BioWizard on December 17th, 2010, 10:34 pm 

Glia don't participate in cognitive functions. They cater to the neurons and support their growth with nourishment and growth factors, but they don't themselves carry any electric signals through the brain in the manner which neurons do to give rise to nervous functions and ultimately cognition. As a matter of fact, situations where glia proliferate uncontrollably can hamper neuronal growth and lead to decline of neuronal functions. That's what a glial scar is, and it's why people with spinal cord injury get paralyzed downstream of the injury site.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby BioWizard on December 17th, 2010, 10:39 pm 

DarkSEAL7 wrote:and for you paralith... HEre are some good sites to educate and broaden your understanding of the glial cell and their types....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glial_cell

http://www.rubysemporium.org/brain_longevity.html

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... ought-what


Your references don't support your thesis. Intelligence is about neuronal function and connections. Yes, glia support neuronal health, but so do blood cells. It's an indirect contribution by allowing neurons to function in a favorable environment.

These people know a lot more than you do and they're trying to help you understand what you seem to have misunderstood. If you don't want to be grateful, at least don't be a pompous prick. Otherwise, your questions might no longer be addressed in a manner befitting of your "thirst for knowledge". I'm just say'in.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby mtbturtle on December 17th, 2010, 11:23 pm 

Gently, gently :)

This stuff is hard! but I will say if you listen and try to keep up you may just pick up a few things even if rudimentary.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby DarkSEAL7 on December 18th, 2010, 1:53 am 

Alright, well i'm just going to ignore my instinct to retaliate in anger to your name-calling. And Biowizard, you say that glial cells serve no purpose in cognitive thinking. Well actually, i am listening and thinking about what these kind people have said, but it doesn't exactly match up with all the research iv'e done with the topic.

As stated in my source above ,

"The special type of cell that was in abundance in Area 39 of Einstein's brain was the glial cell. To Dr. Diamond, this was extremely significant.

Glial cells are very common in the brain, but they are, in effect, "housekeeping" cells, and not "thinking" cells. Their job is to support the metabolism of the "thinking" neurons.

Einstein had only a measurable excess of "housekeeping" cells, and not a measurable excess of "thinking" cells. To Dr. Diamond, this meant Einstein's "thinking" cells in Area 39 needed a great deal of metabolic support. Why would they need so much support? Because they were doing a tremendous amount of work: a lot of hard thinking."

What i'm saying is that 'without' the larger ratio of glial cells to neurons, the duller the intellect will be because of the lack of 'housing' (if that makes sense), the lack of support to the the actual 'thinking' cells called the neurons. So sorry, but you only confirmed what my source said, obviously you didn't read them through well enough.

Based on the research and evidence provided therein Einstein's brain, The increased numbers of glial cells he had in area 39 of his brain WERE significant to his intelligence. If he hadn't been born with such-a-many, it is believed he wouldn't of had the spatial and visual capacity he did for mathematics and physics alike.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby DarkSEAL7 on December 18th, 2010, 1:59 am 

Also check this out, "An autopsy was performed on Einstein by Dr. Thomas Stoltz Harvey, who removed and preserved his brain. Harvey found nothing unusual with his brain, but in 1999 further analysis by a team at McMaster University revealed that his parietal operculum region was missing and, to compensate, his inferior parietal lobe was 15% wider than normal. The inferior parietal region is responsible for mathematical thought, visuospatial cognition, and imagery of movement. Einstein's brain also contained 73% more glial cells than the average brain."

The simple question is: Do you disagree with the statement, "The number of glial cells affects the capacity of spatial learning and thought, because the higher the ratio with the neurons, the greater the neurons can function."
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby wolfhnd on December 18th, 2010, 5:06 am 

This could be interesting if carried out carefully. There seems to be a lot we don't know about cognitive functions.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby mtbturtle on December 18th, 2010, 6:46 am 

DarkSEAL7 wrote:As stated in my source above ,

"The special type of cell that was in abundance in Area 39 of Einstein's brain was the glial cell. To Dr. Diamond, this was extremely significant.


When was Dr. Diamond conducting this research?
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby BioWizard on December 18th, 2010, 11:03 am 

DarkSEAL7 wrote:Alright, well i'm just going to ignore my instinct to retaliate in anger to your name-calling.


Good. That seems more reasonable and in lieu of your stated intentions.

DarkSEAL7 wrote:And Biowizard, you say that glial cells serve no purpose in cognitive thinking. Well actually, i am listening and thinking about what these kind people have said, but it doesn't exactly match up with all the research iv'e done with the topic.


Really? Let's see.

DarkSEAL7 wrote:As stated in my source above ,

Glial cells are very common in the brain, but they are, in effect, "housekeeping" cells, and not "thinking" cells. Their job is to support the metabolism of the "thinking" neurons.


compare this to

Biowizard wrote:They cater to the neurons and support their growth with nourishment and growth factors, but they don't themselves carry any electric signals through the brain in the manner which neurons do to give rise to nervous functions and ultimately cognition.


Does that not match up?

DarkSEAL7 wrote:Einstein had only a measurable excess of "housekeeping" cells, and not a measurable excess of "thinking" cells. To Dr. Diamond, this meant Einstein's "thinking" cells in Area 39 needed a great deal of metabolic support. Why would they need so much support? Because they were doing a tremendous amount of work: a lot of hard thinking."


The excess that he had may or may not have been correlated with increased intelligence. A sample of one is hardly indicative of any kind of causative or correlative association. If you take the glia away, the neuronal functions will decline. If you add them back, the neuronal function will be restored. However, adding too much glia may or may not be of significant usefulness. And like I said, stimulating glial proliferation comes with an inherent risk.

DarkSEAL7 wrote:What i'm saying is that 'without' the larger ratio of glial cells to neurons, the duller the intellect will be because of the lack of 'housing' (if that makes sense), the lack of support to the the actual 'thinking' cells called the neurons. So sorry, but you only confirmed what my source said, obviously you didn't read them through well enough.


That assumes that the ratio of glia to neurons in the normal brain is well below the optimal, and so far we have no indication of that. In order to prove the causative relation that you're suggesting, you would have to show that all people with higher glial ratios are smarter than all people with lower glial rations. That's how science works. One anecdote is not enough to support a hypothesis.

I have no doubt that improving the metabolic functions of the neurons increases intelligence. That's too trivial to even discuss. What I'm saying is that we don't know that having an excess of glial cells is necessary for achieving that. Even assuming what's said about Einstein's brain is true, that's just ONE example. What if you start looking at other people and you find someone who has excess glia but no increased intelligence? That's falsifiability DarkSeal7, and so far the claim you're supporting hasn't demonstrated some ability to survive it.

DarkSEAL7 wrote:Based on the research and evidence provided therein Einstein's brain, The increased numbers of glial cells he had in area 39 of his brain WERE significant to his intelligence. If he hadn't been born with such-a-many, it is believed he wouldn't of had the spatial and visual capacity he did for mathematics and physics alike.


Like I said, until someone does real science and proves that the association in Einstein's brain is a causative or correlative one, the above statement about "significance" is simply untrue.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby BioWizard on December 18th, 2010, 11:20 am 

And to support the point that too much glia isn't always a good thing, here's an example of a disorder associated with excessive glial function/proliferation:

Autosomal recessive hypermyelinating neuropathy
M. Sabatelli1 Contact Information, T. Mignogna1, G. Lippi1, S. Servidei1, G. Manfredi1, E. Ricci1, E. Bertini2, M. Lo Monaco1 and P. Tonali1

Received: 17 August 1993 Revised: 20 October 1993 Accepted: 20 October 1993
Abstract We studied three patients from two kinships, affected by early onset hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy with probable autosomal recessive inheritance (HMSN type III). Morphological studies of sural nerve biopsies revealed an abnormal myelin proliferation. Two adult patients with long-term follow up, lost ability to walk at 28 and 22 years and showed severe involvement of the cranial nerves. Our observations suggest that ldquohypermyelination neuropathyrdquo with early onset is a progressive disease with poor long-term prognosis. In one kinship the occurrence of the disease in two sibs of both sexes but not in parents, is consistent with an autosomal recessive inheritance. Familial cases of hypermyelination neuropathy have not been described in previous reports. Morphological aspects of this condition are compared with other forms of hypermyelination neuropathy.


In other words, a loss of glia can cause a decline of brain functions, but it is not clear that the opposite is necessarily true, and too much of a good thing isn't always a better thing.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby DarkSEAL7 on December 18th, 2010, 2:18 pm 

Okay i see your point. Thank you very much for taking the time to explain it. I really appreciate it. :) What your saying makes sense. Your just basically saying that we have to more conclusive research to confirm that of which we found to be true in Einstein's brain, correct? Alright, well i didn't think about that. I'll have to do more research to see whether or not there is any correlation. The problem is, alot of the geniuses that have lived in the past, were hundreds of years ago. lol. I'm not quite sure if we have done the research with their brains as we have done with Einstein's because of the better technology we had later than we had in those earlier times. But i will definitely look! So before all of this started, my original question was about enhancing glial cells (not necessarily reproducing them) to make them more efficient in housing the neurons in such. So i guess the answer to that would be no? Because we are born with what we are born with, and their is no way to better the efficiency of those astrocytes (Glial cells)? I really appreciate everyone's help and thoughts. Thanks.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby DarkSEAL7 on December 18th, 2010, 2:21 pm 

Oh, and do you all mind me asking who i'm speaking with? Doctors, biologists, whoever? Basically what is your rep to confirm the validity in your answers? Just curious, but even so, i still trust you guys, because it is obvious you are more educated on this topic than i am. Just wondering. Thanks.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby Paralith on December 18th, 2010, 3:46 pm 

If you click on our usernames, you can see our profiles where our backgrounds are listed. I'm a graduate student in evolutionary anthropology.

I would just like to add a word of caution on looking for correlations. As they say, correlation does not equal causation. Fifteen year olds have better language skills than five year olds. Fifteen year olds also have bigger feet than five year olds. It doesn't necessarily follow that larger feet cause better language skills, right? =) A larger percentage of glial cells may be the result of higher functioning nerve cells, or even the result of another process entirely, that happens to also increase neuron functioning. So, more research is not only needed to establish whether the correlation is real or not, but then to establish exactly what is causing the correlation.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby wolfhnd on December 18th, 2010, 4:38 pm 

Interesting information about myths in neurology.

http://neurocritic.blogspot.com/2009/09 ... -more.html

More information that is relevant.

Evidence from comparative studies of gene expression and evolution suggest that human neocortical neurons may be characterized by unusually high levels of energy metabolism. The current study examined whether there is a disproportionate increase in glial cell density in the human frontal cortex in comparison with other anthropoid primate species (New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, and hominoids) to support greater metabolic demands. Among 18 species of anthropoids, humans displayed the greatest departure from allometric scaling expectations for the density of glia relative to neurons in layer II/III of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (area 9L). However, the human glia-neuron ratio in this prefrontal region did not differ significantly from allometric predictions based on brain size. Further analyses of glia-neuron ratios across frontal areas 4, 9L, 32, and 44 in a sample of humans, chimpanzees, and macaque monkeys showed that regions involved in specialized human cognitive functions, such as "theory of mind" (area 32) and language (area 44) have not evolved differentially higher requirements for metabolic support. Taken together, these findings suggest that greater metabolic consumption of human neocortical neurons relates to the energetic costs of maintaining expansive dendritic arbors and long-range projecting axons in the context of an enlarged brain.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16938869
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby neuro on December 18th, 2010, 6:39 pm 

Thanks wolfhnd.
Good point.
This sets the general picture:
More neurons to make more complex networks.
More synapses to make even more complex networks.
More synapses per neuron but mainly larger brain size => greater metabolic demand
Greater metabolic demand => more need for glia.

Neurons and the way they are connected are the main factors.
But glia is indispensable.
And it contributes to processing (see below).

DarkSEAL7 wrote:So i guess the answer to that would be no? Because we are born with what we are born with, and their is no way to better the efficiency of those astrocytes (Glial cells)?


DarkSEAL7,

I'm happy to see you got one central point: a correlation does not impy cause, it might be a coincidence or even an effect.

Now, you should try to focalize another point: organisms are highly complex systems and their correct functioning is based on a myriad of control mechanisms which regulate cell numbers, localization, differentiation, functional state, and all cellular and systemic functions. This complex dynamic equilibrium is referred to as "homeostasis", and it would be TERRIBLE if you were able to alter it simply by changing your diet.

The point is not that "there is no way to better the efficiency of those astrocytes": they could not do their job better; they are in perfect number and perfectly tuned to do their job at best. Unless pathologies are present.

And organisms do not work as cars - the more you push on the pedal the faster they go - but rather as a precision clock - if you accelerate the mechanisms the clock does not work correctly any more.

Once you offer an organism a correct, rich, equilibrated and complete diet (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, fibers, minerals and vitamins), it is tuned to use all it needs and metabolize and/or eliminate the rest: giving it further noble aminoacids, or vitamins or whatever, is absolutely no use, and it may even impair its functioning (obesity, hypervitaminoses, organ damages).

Paralith wrote:neuro, could you recommend any good review papers about glial cells and their functions?


Well, the field has grown so wide that nobody writes general reviews on glia any more. A general view on glial cell types and functions will probably be found more easily in textbooks.

Here are some reviews on astrocytes:

Functions of mature mammalian astrocytes: a current view.
Kimelberg HK.
Neuroscientist. 2010 Feb;16(1):79-106. Review.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20236950

Astrocytes: biology and pathology.
Sofroniew MV, Vinters HV.
Acta Neuropathol. 2010 Jan;119(1):7-35. Epub 2009 Dec 10. Review.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20012068
ArticleFree text

or on the hot topic of physiopathological roles of microglia:

Microglia in neurodegenerative disease.
Perry VH, Nicoll JA, Holmes C.
Nat Rev Neurol. 2010 Apr;6(4):193-201. Epub 2010 Mar 16. Review.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20234358

Finally, just to stress an aspect I referred to above, namely that the current view is that glia DOES CONTRIBUTE to synaptic communication and neuronal information processing:

Do astrocytes really exocytose neurotransmitters?
Hamilton NB, Attwell D.
Nat Rev Neurosci. 2010 Apr;11(4):227-38. Review.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20300101

Tripartite synapses: astrocytes process and control synaptic information.
Perea G, Navarrete M, Araque A.
Trends Neurosci. 2009 Aug;32(8):421-31.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19615761

Integrated brain circuits: astrocytic networks modulate neuronal activity and behavior.
Halassa MM, Haydon PG.
Annu Rev Physiol. 2010 Mar 17;72:335-55. Review.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20148679

J Neurochem. 2009 Feb;108(3):533-44.
Communication between neurons and astrocytes: relevance to the modulation of synaptic and network activity.
Fellin T.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19187090

and a narcisistic note: one of the first papers addressing the functional interference of astrocytes in neuronal activity (in a cultured neuronal network)
J Neurophysiol. 2002 Nov;88(5):2302-10.
Block of glutamate-glutamine cycle between astrocytes and neurons inhibits epileptiform activity in hippocampus.
Bacci A, Sancini G, Verderio C, Armano S, Pravettoni E, Fesce R, Franceschetti S, Matteoli M.
http://jn.physiology.org/cgi/pmidlookup ... d=12424271
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby wolfhnd on December 18th, 2010, 7:04 pm 

A quick and dirty response for those who didn't follow my links :-)

Since the number of synapses increases faster than the number of neurons in larger brains, this affiliation of glia with the multitude of neural connection points may help explain... For example, in large brains such as the human brain... there may be as many as 1.4 astrocytes for each neuron, up from 0.33 in the rodent cortex (Nedergaard et al. 2003). Even that ratio, however, is still a long way from the myth of 10 times more glia than neurons, in any species.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby neuro on December 18th, 2010, 7:30 pm 

wolfhnd wrote:A quick and dirty response for those who didn't follow my links :-)

Since the number of synapses increases faster than the number of neurons in larger brains, this affiliation of glia with the multitude of neural connection points may help explain... For example, in large brains such as the human brain... there may be as many as 1.4 astrocytes for each neuron, up from 0.33 in the rodent cortex (Nedergaard et al. 2003). Even that ratio, however, is still a long way from the myth of 10 times more glia than neurons, in any species.


Numbers and statistics are not my specialty, but I was wondering that 10:1 might turn out a reasonable figure if one considers the peripheral nervous system as well, where pretty many Schwann cells are involved in providing myelin ensheating to the same axon, tens of centimeters long.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby wolfhnd on December 18th, 2010, 8:08 pm 

I will try and find out what is behind the discrepancy tomorrow.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby wolfhnd on December 21st, 2010, 7:26 pm 

"Size isn’t everything: The big brain myth"

What’s so special about the human brain? It turns out that we’re no better endowed between the ears than you would expect for a primate of our size


Then there are the glial cells. For years considered mere support cells in the brain, glia have recently been recognized for their important role in transmitting signals (Nature Reviews Neuroscience, vol 6, p 626). A study of Einstein’s brain revealed that he had a higher glia-to-neuron ratio than the dead males doctors used as controls. This fits with a growing body of work suggesting that this ratio is associated with intelligence differences between species (Nature Neuroscience, vol 10, p 331). However, it is unclear how glial cells influence intelligence. What’s more, despite the widely held assumption that humans have a glia-to-neuron ratio of 10:1, Herculano-Houzel’s study found it to be more like 1:1.


http://blogs.monografias.com/sistema-li ... rain-myth/

More to come if I stay interested :-)
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wolfhnd
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby BioWizard on December 23rd, 2010, 5:50 pm 

Nah, that's not true. At least our cortex is significantly different from that of other primates. There are more anatomical differences in our brains than can be handwaved so nonchalantly. Put simply, adding glia to a chimp brain isn't going to give it human intelligence.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby wolfhnd on December 23rd, 2010, 9:19 pm 

I believe the point would be that size and number of neurons do not correlate to differences in intelligence directly.
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Re: Glial Cells In the Brain and How to enhance them?

Postby BioWizard on December 24th, 2010, 10:20 am 

wolfhnd wrote:I believe the point would be that size and number of neurons do not correlate to differences in intelligence directly.


But they would/should, IF all other things equal. It is when all other things aren't equal that the correlation becomes fuzzy. That still doesn't mean, however, that a larger more anatomically complex brain does not correlate with increased intelligence. We know from clinical cases in humans that decreasing the convolutions of a brain correlates with a drop in mental capacity.

Increasing the number of glia in a brain to make it smarter is a lot like increasing the size of a fuel tank in a plane to make it fly faster. It won't make it fly faster, it would just make it fly longer. To make it fly faster, you need to increase the engine's power. Naturally, the two upgrades go hand in hand (since a more powerful engine will often have higher fuel consumption), but it is specifically the engine (under reasonable conditions) that moves the aircraft and specifically the engine that determines its top speed, not the fuel tank...
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