Lucy Hanrahan 4/7/15
Core Bio C ODD Current Event
Zimmer, Carl. "Studying Oversize Brain Cells for Links to Exceptional Memory." The New
York Times. The New York Times, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.
In 2010, a women named Tamar Geferi was able to work with a special group of people know as “Super Agers” to find what people still think may link to the cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases having to do with memory loss. These Super Agers, all in there 80s, were tested on their memories and remembered much of the memories and ideas that they also remembered in there 50s. They also agreed to have their brains studied once they passed away so that studies could continue. The parts of their brains scientist were studying were brain cells known as Von Economo neurons. These “Super Agers” had five times as many of these neurons as most people. Many of these people have unfortunately passed, and after studying their brains scientist still can’t figure out why they had so many of these cells. However, there is a direct link to memory and the economo cells. The economo cells were discovered in 1881, but not researched in detail until the 1920s. It wasn’t until 2005 that these cells were named. Unlike most neurons, the economo cells are long and thin and have branches that go across the brain. Other scientist who also studied these neurons including, John M Allman, believe that they represent a fast relay. Scientists agree that the neurons will have to be studied for many more decades but time is ticking, especially with memory diseases are becoming more prevalent.
This article is very important to society today. Almost over 5 million Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s or symptoms of Alzheimer’s. If there was a way to duplicate the economo cells there may be a cure for many people. However, the cell is pretty new in the scientific field and scientists feel that they need much more evidence to make sure the cell is directly associated with memory loss. They also need evidence as to how people gain these cells. Without a complete study memory loss diseases cannot be cured.
Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that has always interested me and also scared me because it has such a strong effect on people’s lives. People with Alzheimer’s can’t remember the simplest things, for example they don’t remember that they have kids. Carl Zimmer’s article thoroughly explains the economo cells and how they affect the brain. However, the studies are limited. Many different scientists have studied the cells but not enough experiments have been done which is unfortunate because if there was a direct correlation between Alzheimer’s and the economo cells, there may be a cure for Alzheimer’s. This article was very clear and well organized and definitely interested me and makes me want to follow up and see new improved experiments.