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Brain Nerve. 2015 Apr;67(4):505-12. doi: 10.11477/mf.1416200167.

[Brain function and white matter].

[Article in Japanese]

Author information

Division of Homeostatic Development, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, National Institutes of Natural Sciences.


Accumulated evidence shows that neural information processing takes place in superficial layers of the brain called the gray matter. Synapses, which connect different neurons reside in the gray matter and are considered the major components of information processing and plasticity. On the other hand, myelinated axons lie beneath the gray matter. These bundles of cables connect neurons in the different brain regions to form functional neural circuits. Myelinated axons were of little of interest to neuroscientists and have long been ignored in the formation of functional neuronal circuits. Recent evidence shows that myelin formed by oligodendrocytes shows plastic changes depending on neuronal activity. In this issue, we discuss the plastic changes of myelin and its functional role in learning and training.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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