Scientists at the University of York and Hull York Medical School have discovered that under stressful conditions, such as neuro-degeneration found in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, high energy forms of damaging oxygen cause synapses to grow excessively.
"The findings have strong implications for neuronal function as brains age, and will add significantly to our understanding of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease," stated Dr Sean Sweeney, co-author of the study at the University of York.
Synapses transmit millions of signals in the brain and must be the right size to for the signals to pass through properly.
Excessive growth in synapses will cause motor and cognitive impairment, learning and memory difficulties, and other neurological disorders.
In 2008, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered a gene in fruit flies that could prevent the excessive growth of synapses and improve treatment of neurological disorders.
With the precise nature of most mental health problems being undiagnosable, the recent discoveries may go some way towards furthering insight into unknown cases.
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