The evolutionary success of the vertebrate nervous system is largely due to a unique structural feature--the myelin sheath, a fatty envelope that surrounds the axons of neurons. By increasing the speed by which electrical signals travel along axons, myelin facilitates neuronal communication between distant regions of the nervous system. We review the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the development of myelin as well as its homeostasis in adulthood. We discuss how finely tuned neuron-oligodendrocyte interactions are central to myelin formation during development and in the adult, and how these interactions can have profound implications for the plasticity of the adult brain. We also speculate how the functional diversity of both neurons and oligodendrocytes may impact on the myelination process in both health and disease.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Photo of Paola Arlotta

Dr. Arlotta is interested in understanding the molecular laws that govern the birth, differentiation and assembly of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that controls how we sense, move and think. She integrates developmental and evolutionary knowledge to investigate therapies for brain repair and for modeling neuropsychiatric disease.

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