An Australian neuroscientist has discovered a new region of the brain that has never been seen in well-studied laboratory animals.
The region now under the name of Endorestiform Nucleus was first noticed about 30 years ago, but it was only recently that its existence was confirmed by researchers. The discovery was made possible by the latest coloring and imaging techniques.
"There is nothing nicer for a neuroscientist than finding an unknown area of the human brain. The important thing is that this area is absent in monkeys and other animals. There must be some things that are unique to the human brain beyond its larger size, and that area is probably one of them. Professor George Paxinos of Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) who suspected the existence of the Endorestiform Nucleus in the brain, said in a statement.
The newly discovered region is located in the lower part of the cerebellum, near the spinal-brain junction, responsible for integrating sensory and motor information to correct our posture, balance and motor movements.
The discovery represents a new revolutionary understanding of brain function and suggests a potential target for the treatment of many diseases, including Parkinson's disease and motor neuron disease.
"The Professor Paxinos atlas showing detailed morphology and connections of the human brain and spinal cord provide a critical framework for researchers to test hypotheses of synaptic function for treatments of brain diseases," said Professor Peter Schofield, CEO of NeuRA.
Humans have extraordinarily large brains, which are more than three times larger than our nearest living relatives. Not surprisingly, their behavior is also complex. If we understand more about how the newly discovered region behaves and interacts, we will know more about how this can affect human health.
"What remains to be done is to determine the function of this region of the newly discovered brain," said George Paxinos. "Now that it has been mapped out, it will be possible for it to be studied by the wider research community."