JCCC Honors Journal


The primary focus of neurology, since the beginning, has been the neuron. This is understandable, neuronal networks and nerves being the main communication mechanism between the brain and the rest of the body. However, this focus on neurons has overshadowed and delayed research on the other cells in the brain. Glial cells, or neuroglia, are defined as all cells in the brain that are not electrically excitable neurons or vascular cells. This definition of glial cells introduced by Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow in 1858. Until relatively recently, the idea that glial cells are simply passive elements of the brain that only function as support for neurons dominated. Now however, scientists are discovering that glial cells do in fact have an active electrical function in the brain. In this paper, I will look at the history of glial cell research, and developments in research technology and techniques. I will analyze a 2014 publication from Mainz University in Germany, which looks at electrical communication between NG2 glial cells and neurons, to illustrate the importance of these developments for current research.