Research Article

Neuronal Activity Promotes Oligodendrogenesis and Adaptive Myelination in the Mammalian Brain

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Science  02 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6183, 1252304
DOI: 10.1126/science.1252304

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Oligodendroglia ensheath axons in the brain with myelin, which provides the insulation that speeds up transmission of neuronal electrical impulses. The process of myelination in the human brain goes on for decades, concurrent with all manner of brain development and cognitive activity. Gibson et al. (p. 10.1126/science.1252304, published online 10 April; see the Perspective by Bechler and ffrench-Constant) used optogenetics to study myelination in response to neural activity. Electrical activity in the motor cortex of the brain of awake mice led to proliferation and differentiation of oligodendrocytes and consequently increased myelination and alterations in motor response.