The Life of Your Next Neuron

Some neu­rons migrate by rid­ing along exten­sions (radi­al glia) until they reach their final destinations.

(In hon­or of Brain Aware­ness Week, which starts today, let’s learn a bit more about neu­rons. A ques­tion we get often as we dis­cuss the ben­e­fits of aer­o­bic and men­tal exer­cise is, “Can neu­rons trav­el -“migrate”- inside the brain?” Below you have the answer, and more, straight from the Nation­al Insti­tute of Health website.)

Once a neu­ron is born it has to trav­el to the place in the brain where it will do its work.

How does a neu­ron know where to go? What helps it get there?

Sci­en­tists have seen that neu­rons use at least two dif­fer­ent meth­ods to travel:

  1. Some neu­rons migrate by fol­low­ing the long fibers of cells called radi­al glia. These fibers extend from the inner lay­ers to the out­er lay­ers of the brain. Neu­rons glide along the fibers until they reach their destination.
  2. Neu­rons also trav­el by using chem­i­cal sig­nals. Sci­en­tists have found spe­cial mol­e­cules on the sur­face of neu­rons — adhe­sion mol­e­cules — that bind with sim­i­lar mol­e­cules on near­by glial cells or nerve axons. These chem­i­cal sig­nals guide the neu­ron to its final location.

Not all neu­rons are suc­cess­ful in their jour­ney. Sci­en­tists think that only a third reach their des­ti­na­tion. The rest either nev­er dif­fer­en­ti­ate, or die and dis­ap­pear at some point dur­ing the two to three week phase of migration.

Some neu­rons sur­vive the trip, but end up where they shouldn’t be. Muta­tions in the genes that con­trol migra­tion cre­ate areas of mis­placed or odd­ly formed neu­rons that can cause dis­or­ders such as child­hood epilep­sy or men­tal retar­da­tion. Some researchers sus­pect that schiz­o­phre­nia and the learn­ing dis­or­der dyslex­ia are part­ly the result of mis­guid­ed neurons.”

To Learn More about The Life and Death of a Neu­ron at the NIH website:

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

Top Articles on Brain Health and Neuroplasticity

Top 10 Brain Teasers and Illusions


Subscribe to our e-newsletter

* indicates required

Got the book?