Feb 14, 2023

Social isolation triggers astrocyte-mediated deficits in learning and memory

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

Here is an important reason to stay in touch with friends and family: social isolation causes memory and learning deficits and other behavioral changes. Many brain studies have focused on the effects social deprivation has on neurons, but little is known about the consequences for the most abundant brain cell, the astrocyte.

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine working with animal models report in the journal Neuron that during , become hyperactive, which in turn suppresses brain circuit function and memory formation. Importantly, inhibiting astrocyte hyperactivity reversed the cognitive deficits associated with .

“One thing we have learned during the COVID pandemic is that social isolation can influence cognitive functions, as previous studies suggested,” said co-first author, Yi-Ting Cheng, graduate student in Dr. Benjamin Deneen’s lab at Baylor. “This motivated co-first author Dr. Junsung Woo and me to further investigate the effects of social isolation in the brain, specifically in astrocytes.”

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