Animals that are socially isolated for prolonged periods make less myelin in the region of the brain responsible for complex emotional and cognitive behavior, researchers report.
Myelin is the crucial fatty material that wraps the axons of neurons and allows them to signal effectively. Normal nerve function is lost in demyelinating disorders, such as MS and the rare, fatal, childhood disease, Krabbe's disease. Demyelinating disorders have also had an association with depression.
This paper reveals that the stress of social isolation disrupts the sequence in which the myelin-making cells, the oligodendrocytes, are formed.