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In Szeged, they look for what slows people down.

In Szeged, they look for what slows people down.

The Neurophysiology and Therapy Research Group of the Hungarian Centre of Excellence for Molecular Medicine (HCEMM) in Szeged investigates the human aging process and processes at the neuronal level. They ask what is behind the phenomenon of slowing down of movement and thinking in old age, as people get older and the proportion of elderly people in society increases. Understanding the aging process is also important because in the 1980s there was one pensioner for every five people of working age in Hungary, today this ratio is three to one, and in a few decades there will be one pensioner for every two people of working age. It is therefore important that elderly people stay healthy.

Szeged researchers have found a possible explanation for why the performance of individual neurons in the brain deteriorates so markedly over time.

“Fast-firing” interneurons in the cerebral cortex are a common and important type of neuron that connects the activity of other neurons into a network. Their rhythmic activity plays a key role in cognition, complex movement, and learning. Researchers have observed this during aging. The electrical signals generated by neurons slow down and weaken, which may be a direct cause of deteriorating performance in aging..

“It is important to know that throughout our lives, our brains operate with the neurons we were born with,” Kari Lamsa, head of the research group, was quoted in the statement sent to MTI regarding the discovery.Most of the neurons in our brain are the same age as we are, and we do not gain new cells during our lives.It is amazing that they still function properly even after eighty years. In healthy aging, the changes are small but significant, reducing the electrical activity of neurons.

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“We observed that the action potentials that cells generate weaken in old age,” said Victor Szegedy, first author of the article published in the journal Biotechnology. “This is the electrical signal that travels through the entire nerve cell, by which the cell sends a message to its neighbors. This signal slows down and weakens with age – a clear conclusion that this is also one of the reasons for the decline in the ability to move and think.”

Slow action potentials also slow down the network of neurons, which may explain why older people have a harder time learning than younger people.

This research was made possible thanks to the cooperation between the University of Szeged and HCEMM: The researchers were able to obtain live human neurons with the consent of patients who underwent brain surgery due to injury or disease..

In cases like this A small amount of healthy nerve tissue is also removed, which the researchers keep alive for the duration of the scan.The samples came from the patients' cerebral cortex, particularly the frontal lobe, which plays a key role in complex thinking and decision-making.

“Our results are among the first in the world to report age-related changes in this type of cortical neuron, and over a hundred samples cover a wide age range, from adolescents to patients in their 80s. We have gained a unique insight into what happens during aging.” In the human brain, Not in laboratory animalsKari Lamsa, head of the research group, confirmed that these animals live much shorter lives compared to humans.

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