Omega-3 Promotes Development of Neural Networks
According to a study with rhesus monkeys at Oregon Health & Science University, eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids encourages highly connected brains with well organized neural networks. The monkeys were fed the diet until they were 17-19 years old, after their mothers had been given the same diet during gestation. Compared to omega-3 deficient monkeys, they had strong connectivity in visual pathways and greater connections in brain networks for higher-level processing, attention, and cognition.     The study has important implications for human brain development, but it also represents the first time scientists have been able to image the interactions of multiple brain networks in monkeys. A future possibility is studying monkeys to see if deficits in various networks are accompanied by behavioral patterns resembling those of humans with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. Journal of Neuroscience Vol 34, 2065-2074.


New Type of Neuron Discovered
Researchers in Hungary studying neuronal electrical activity and shapes and a team in the U.S. attempting to identify patterns of gene activation unique to the human brain converged on a type of neuron that had not been recognized before. The new cells have been dubbed "rosehip neurons" because the dendrites and axon give the neuron a bushy appearance. They are GABA-releasing inhibitory neurons that target excitatory neurons; they make up about 10% of the neurons in the first layer of the human cortex. What has intrigued scientists most is that their pattern of gene activation has not been found in any other type of neuron, or in any neurons in the brains of mice, which are often used as the research model for human brain functioning. Nature Neuroscience, Vol 21, 1185-1195.