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Neuroscience shouldn’t be out of reach

The following research headline is most people’s idea of neuroscience: “Transmembrane Helix Straightening and Buckling Underlies Activation of Mechanosensitive and Thermosensitive K2P Channels.” Which is to say, incomprehensible.

Yet there are other headlines in the same issue of the journal Neuron (Dec. 17, 2014) that, with a little work, aren’t so difficult.

Once you know a little about the structure of the neuron, that infinitesimally tiny thing that we know as a brain cell, a headline like “Please Mind the Gap: Axonal Transport Deficits in Multiple Sclerosis Neurodegeneration” begins to make neuron1sense . You know what multiple sclerosis is, you can guess that neurodegeneration refers to degradation of neurons. All you really need to add to that is that the axon is the long strand through which the cell sends its signal on to the next cell.

To me, it’s important that more people understand what neuroscience is telling us. Take the write-up below the preceding headline:

. . . axonal transport impairment is an early feature of neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis models. This transport deficit is reversible by anti-inflammatory intervention . . .

Once you get past the multi-syllabic words that previously were a foreign language, you can see the message: “reversible by anti-inflammatory intervention.”

Unfortunately, in this particular case, the rest of the story lies behind Neuron’s subscriber fees, at least until I can make it through a rights request. But my point remains.

Brain science is something that all of us can understand. And with the number of discoveries increasing rapidly, it’s important that we do so.

Be sure to read the other pieces in this category.

 

 

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