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How Neurons Know That It's C-c-c-c-cold Outside

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Science  22 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5559, pp. 1451-1452
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5559.1451

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A spate of papers published this month offers two answers to the question of how nerve cells transmit cold sensations. Sometimes specialized sensors for menthol, the active ingredient in mint, do the job; other times neurons choreograph the movement of ions in response to cold in the absence of a specific receptor. Researchers suspect that the two mechanisms operate in concert, either in separate populations of cells or together in the same neurons.