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The findings of the research by scientists could one day have key implications for the way we treat brain related diseases such as Parkinson's or deal with conditions like Tourette's syndrome. Pixabay

In ray of hope for treating brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, scientists here have made a major discovery about the way brain influences behaviour.

Throwing new light on neurons involved in behaviour, learning and dysfunction, the team from University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney discovered two types of neuronal circuit in the brain that acquire and update voluntary actions are much more intertwined than previously thought.


The findings could one day have key implications for the way we treat brain related diseases such as Parkinson’s or deal with conditions like Tourette’s syndrome.

In a paper published in the journal Science, the team of Miriam Matamales and Jay Bertran-Gonzalez, with UNSW Neuroscience Lab Director, Scientia Professor Bernard Balleine, wanted to know the relationship between two main types of neuron found in the striatum — a major area of the brain responsible for voluntary movement in animals and humans.

They set up experiments to observe mice while they learned new actions that led to a reward of food, then examined the activity of these neurons in large areas of the striatum. They looked specifically at the activity of the two classes of neuron in this area – those expressing D1 or D2 types of dopamine receptors.

For the last three decades, these D1- and D2-neurons were thought to have an independent influence on voluntary action, respectively initiating and inhibiting reward-seeking behaviour.

“You’ve got a neuron, the D1-neuron, that’s involved in acquiring and maintaining ongoing behaviour and another, the D2-neuron, that’s engaged in updating that behaviour when there are changes in the environment,” said Professor Balleine. While studying how these two types of neuron became active during learning, the team began to find an unexpectedly high degree of interaction between them which happened locally, within the striatum itself.

“What is game changing is that this critical interaction is going on in the striatum, not further downstream in more distant motor output structures of the brain as was thought previously,” explained Balleine. This new understanding of the D1 and D2 neurons could have important implications for medicine and even our concept of how voluntary actions are acquired and altered.


In ray of hope for treating brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, scientists here have made a major discovery about the way brain influences behaviour. Pixabay

Diseases that are associated with basal ganglia function include Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, dementia, dystonia, Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Professor Balleine noted that with health conditions related to the basal ganglia, the striatum could be the new target area for medical intervention.

“We believe these findings have the potential to re-target treatments of basal ganglia disorders to the striatum,” he said.

ALSO READ: Health Researchers may Start Testing Vaccine Against Coronavirus

“Hopefully this will lead to further breakthroughs that help us understand how the brain learns and how we adapt our behaviour to our environment,” said Matamales. (IANS)


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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

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