The Other 85 Percent

Labs around the country are finding that glial cells are involved in epilepsy, fetal brain development, mental illness, and the even generation of new neurons in adults. Some glia form a kind of super-aggressive Secret Service that can tunnel through the snarls of dendrites and attack intruding organisms. Still others serve more like maniacal sidewalk sweepers, collecting and absorbing discarded potassium ions that are released by neurons when they fire. From Fresh thinking on the brain, a January 17 column in the Sunday Globe.