A Secret Society of Cells Runs Your Brain


In this article for Scientific American, I talk about a new study that discovered some surprising things about a class of brain cells that’ve long been assumed to sit silently. Oligodendrocytes aren’t neurons – they’re support cells; and for a long time, their exact behavior was a mystery. Now, researchers are discovering that they take a much more active role in brain function than anyone expected.

Bergles was intrigued by the persistent cycling of these progenitors, so he and his team determined to study the behavior of individual oligodendrocyte progenitors in living brains. The researchers set to work engineering mice in which just these cells make a green fluorescent protein, aiming to track their behavior on shorter timescales than ever before. What they discovered surprised them as much as anyone.

Read more of my article at Scientific American.

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