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Pflugers Arch. 2006 Dec;453(3):411-20. Epub 2006 Jun 15.

Patching the glia reveals the functional organisation of the brain.

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Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester, 1.124 Stopford Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PT, UK.


The neuroglia was initially conceived by Rudolf Virchow as a non-cellular connective tissue holding neurones together. In 1894, Carl Ludwig Schleich proposed a hypothesis of fully integrated and interconnected neuronal-glial circuits as a substrate for brain function. This hypothesis received direct experimental support only hundred years later, after several physiological techniques, and most notably the patch-clamp method, were applied to glial cells. These experiments have demonstrated the existence of active and bi-directional neuronal-glial communications, integrating neuronal networks and glial syncytium into one functional circuit. The data accumulated during last 15 years prompt rethinking of the neuronal doctrine towards more inclusive concept, which regards both neurones and glia as equally responsible for information processing in the brain.

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