click to enlarge
Nature Neuroscience, volume 14, number 3 March 2011
March 2011 - Researchers in Dr. Ben Philpot's lab have discovered a new role for a class of receptors that underlie learning and memory in the brain. In a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, they found that one type of these receptors – the NR3A subtype of NMDA receptors – is expressed at high levels during formative periods of early brain development, where it promotes the release of brain neurotransmitters and weakens connections between neurons. Since NMDA receptors contribute to a large number of neurological disorders – including schizophrenia, neuropathic pain, Alzheimer's disease, forms of mental retardation, and ischemic injury – the researchers’ findings are of particular importance because they suggest a novel functions for these receptors in the human brain. This work was also highlighted in the Nature Neuroscience's News & View section.