A German research team linked happiness with the size of the brain, in a study published in the latest issue of the journal “Neurons”, where the research team from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden found that the neurotransmitter “serotonin”, Responsible for happiness, in addition to its main role in mediating satisfaction, self-confidence and optimism, it plays an additional role as a growth factor for the so-called “basal precursors”, which are stem cells in the cerebral cortex, which play a pivotal role in its expansion.
In previous studies, the research team led by Wieland Hotner of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics investigated the cause of the evolutionary expansion of the human cortex, and the new study focuses on the role of the neurotransmitter (serotonin) in this process.
Serotonin is called the neurotransmitter of happiness because it transmits messages between nerve cells that contribute to well-being and happiness. However, the potential role of these neurotransmitters during brain development has yet to be explored in detail.
In the developing fetus, the placenta produces serotonin, which reaches the brain through the circulatory system. However, its function in the developing brain was unknown, and the research team found in the new study that it needs to bind to one of the HTR2A receptors in order to activate the final signals. The question they tried to answer was whether this receptor had a role in humans having a larger brain.
To explore this, the researchers worked to produce HTR2A receptors in the fetal mouse neocortex, and found that serotonin, by activating this receptor, triggered a series of reactions that led to the production of more basal progenitors in the developing brain. Basal ancestors increase production of cortical neurons, paving the way to a larger brain.
Li Xing, a researcher involved in the study, said in a report published the day before yesterday, the Max Planck Institute website, that “there is evidence to support the findings of the study, as it was found that abnormal signals of serotonin and the disturbed expression or mutation in its HTR2A receptors have been observed in many disorders. Neuropsychiatry, such as Down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism. ” And he adds, “Our findings may help explain how this hormone defects, and this may lead to suggesting new treatment methods.”
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