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Scientists have long theorized that attention to a particular object can

alter perception by amplifying specific neuronal activity and suppressing

the activity of other neurons (brain “noise”). Professor John Reynolds,

first author Anirvan Nandy and collaborators confirmed this theory by

showing how too much background noise from neurons can interrupt

focused attention and cause the brain to struggle to perceive objects. The

findings could help improve designs for visual prosthetics.

HOW ATTENTION HELPS THE

BRAIN PERCEIVE OBJECTS

DISCOVERIES

GUARDIANS OF THE SYNAPSE:

SCIENTISTS IDENTIFY A NEW ROLE

FOR NERVE-SUPPORTING CELLS

eLIFE

02/2019

Salk Professor Kuo-Fen Lee, first author Thomas Gould and collaborators

found that a blood-clotting protein can unexpectedly degrade nerves—and

discovered how nerve-supporting glial cells, including Schwann cells,

provide protection from this degradation. The findings show that Schwann

cells protect nerves by blocking the blood-clotting protein as well as other

potentially destructive enzymes released by muscle cells. The work could

have implications for diseases as diverse as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,

multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

>

Left: mouse nerves show tight bundling

and orderly patterning facilitated

by normal Schwann cells. Middle:

Nerves without Schwann cells but with

acetylcholine experience degeneration

from the blood-clotting protein

thrombin. Right: Nerves lacking both

Schwann cells and acetylcholine are

unable to individually bundle axons but

do not undergo axon degeneration.

PLOS Genetics

03/2019

JOHN REYNOLDS

8 INSIDE SALK

FALL 2019

WWW.SALK.EDU

NEUROSCIENCE