Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO, University of New South Wales and Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) has found a previously unknown region of the human brain -that he suspected existed 30 years ago.
The Endorestiform nucleus is found in the brainstem, more specifically in the inferior cerebellar peduncle, an area that integrates sensory and motor information to refine our control of posture, balance and fine motor movements.
“I can only guess as to its function, but given the part of the brain where it has been found, it might be involved in fine motor control,” says Professor Paxinos.
MAPPING THE BRAIN
Prof. Paxinos is the author of several detailed reference maps of animal and human brains. These reference maps are used by neuroscientists the world over to locate coordinates for their brain areas of interest in which to implant electrodes or inject dyes or viruses containing genetic constructs for labelling circuits.
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The scaled maps use histological images to detail the different nuclei in slices of the brain relative to their distance from the skull landmark, bregma.
OLD BRAIN AREA NEW TRICKS
The brainstem is an evolutionarily ancient part of the brain. However, this new nucleus is absent from rhesus monkeys and other animals. As Professor Paxinos explains:
“There have to be some things that are unique about the human brain besides its larger size, and the Endorestiform Nucleus may be one of them.”
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Paxinos plans to study primate brains in the near future to understand if the Endorestiform nucleus is present.