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Science Talk Wednesdays: NeuroMelanin

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Join us on todays share for another amazing show on NeuroMelanin. What is NeuroMelanin?

Neuromelanin is a dark coloured granular pigment which forms within dopamine and noradrenaline-containing neurons of the substantia nigra (SN) pars compacta and the locus coeruleus in the human brain. The brain of humans consists of Gray matter, White matter, and Black matter. 

The gray matter contains the nerve cells.

White matter - myelin :The white matter of the brain comprises nerve fibers that connect the gray matter. It is composed of nerve fibers and myelin. The nerve fibers form the connections between the nerve cells. Myelin is a fatty sheath wrapped around nerve fibers. The myelin sheath has two functions: insulation and acceleration of impulse conduction. Insulation is important for the prevention of short-circuits. Through its special construction, myelin accelerates the propagation of impulses along nerve fibers.

Myelin is an essential part of the white matter. When the myelin sheath is damaged or disappears, the conduction of impulses along nerve fibers slows down or fails completely. Consequently, brain functions become hampered or be lost.

Black matter :The Black component is called substantia nigra, which is Latin for "black substance." It's black because of neuromelanin, a specialized type of the same pigment that colors skin and hair, and it's a part of the basal ganglia. Finally, we have red -- and that's thanks to the many blood vessels in the brain. So why are preserved brains chalky looking and dull instead of spongy and colorful? It's due to the fixatives, such as formaldehyde, that keep the brain preserved.

Links:http://www.esrf.eu/UsersAndScience/Publications/Highlights/2009/imaging/ima03

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