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Health Agencies Update
September 28, 2011

Myelination Process Examined

JAMA. 2011;306(12):1315. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1379

Electrical impulses produced in brain cells triggered by environmental stimuli lead to the preferential myelination or insulation of such active cells, report researchers from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Their findings help explain a key aspect of human brain development.

“Insulation begins to form on axons in the late stages of fetal development, but the process continues through childhood, adolescence, and into early adulthood,” said R. Douglas Fields, PhD, the study's senior author, in a statement. “For example, infants cannot hold up their heads or walk until the appropriate motor axons become myelinated, and the frontal lobes of the brain, responsible for judgment and higher-level complex reasoning, are not fully myelinated until the early twenties.”