And you thought it was all about the neurons.
In an experiment that might seem like something only a mad scientist would conjure, researchers injected human brain cells into the brains of mice to see how it would affect the way the mice thought. It did: the mice got smarter. But the cognition boosting cells weren’t neurons, they were the red-headed step-children of neuroscience called astrocytes. The study turns on its head the role historically attributed to astrocytes of simply supporting the all important function of neurons without playing a significant role in how we learn and think. It may very well be that humans owe much of their unique cognitive capabilities to astrocytes.