A team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh recently presented an amazing set of brain images in the leading academic journal Science. These images depict the details of the five billion nerve cell connectionpoints in the entire brain at different ages of life. Scientists believe the map will provide clues about brain aging, shed light on how memories are affected by age, and provide insightinto into learning disabilities and dementia.
The “main characters” in these brain images are called synapses, which are important connections between nerve cells, transmitting electrical signals and chemical signals that form the brain’s neural loops. The innate behavior of animals and the behavior of the learned after life are controlled by the molecular composition of synapses. Changes in synapses are the basis for memory formation and storage, and synaptic damage is known to be associated with more than 130 brain diseases.
In this work, using the resolution of a single synaptic, the researchers analyzed the molecular diversity and morphological diversity of excitatory synapses in the entire brain from birth to adulthood to old age in mice, and compared how synapses in each brain region changed during the main mouse life stage.
“The brain is the most complex thing we know, and understanding it from this level of detail is a major step forward. Professor Seth Grant, lead author of the study, said the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Clinical Brain Science.
Different synaptic molecules are marked with different colors on brain slices (Photo Source: Resources)
An all-brain profile of adult mice with different color points showing the diversity of synapses (Image: Source: Source: Source: Credit: Grant Seth University of Edinburgh)
The researchers used different fluorescent markers to mark the proteins expressed in synapses separately, allowing them to distinguish the molecular composition of different synapses or mark the number of different types of synapses.
The image shows that the synaptic composition of all regions of the brain changes continuously throughout life. In adult mice, the image color is most abundant, meaning that synapses are most diverse. In contrast, very young and very old brains have fewer synapses and less complexity.
In adult mice (above), the brains of synapses are more abundant; in young mice (pictured below), the synapses are less diverse (Picture: Kao Data; Credit: Seth Grant University of Edinburgh)
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh say that by changing the space-time composition of these synapses, we can explore why genes cause synaptic damage at a particular age and in a particular brain region. Schizophrenia often begins at puberty, and dementia usually affects older people, “we believe these findings will help to understand why the brain is susceptible to specific diseases at different times in life and how it changes with age.” Professor Grant said.