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After 30 years of hide-an-seek battle scientists discovered a new brain region

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Posted December 4, 2018

Despite on-going scientific effort, we still don’t know our brain very well. Sure you’ve heard about all those regions and what they are responsible for, but how many of them there are in total? We don’t know for sure, as bizarre as that sounds. Professor George Paxinos suspected that there is a hidden region in the brain 30 years ago and only now he was able to discover it.

Endorestiform Nucleus is located within the inferior cerebellar peduncle, responsible for our posture, balance and fine motor movements. Image credit: Massachusetts General Hospital and Draper Labs via Wikimedia

Scientia Professor George Paxinos is a world-renowned cartographer of the brain. This scientist knows brains in and out and yet even he couldn’t find a hidden region for three decades. It is a surprising fact and a good example showing how little we actually know about ourselves. This hidden region has been finally found near the brain-spinal cord junction. It would’ve probably taken even longer to find it, but now finally it was possible by advancements in staining and imaging techniques. Paxinos himself compares his achievement to finding a new star.

The newly discovered region has been named Endorestiform Nucleus. Strange thing is that it is not found in the rhesus monkey and other animals. It seems to be unique to human brain, which is surprising, but not really. Human brain is unique in the animal kingdom because it is larger, but there are other features that belong to us exclusively. Endorestiform Nucleus seems to be one of them. This new region is located within the inferior cerebellar peduncle. This area in our brain is responsible for our posture, balance and fine motor movements. However, scientists are still not sure about the function of the Endorestiform Nucleus, but Paxinos is guessing that it is also involved in controlling fine motor movements. Implications of this discovery are rather huge.

Professor Peter Schofield said: “Professor Paxinos’s atlases showing detailed morphology and connections of the human brain and spinal cord, provide a critical framework for researchers to test hypotheses from synaptic function to treatments for diseases of the brain”. Paxino’s articles are highly cited in the scientific community. These atlases are used in other researches, such as Parkinson’s studies. Marking this new region makes these maps more accurate and, therefore, could help advancing other researches.

Mapping human brain is a very important task and it requires a lot of scientific efforts. However, the map is becoming more accurate thanks to advancements in technology. Better understanding will inevitably lead to curing some brain conditions that are currently affecting millions.

 

Source: UNSW

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