Brain cartographer George Paxinos of Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) has announced the discovery of a region of the brain that had remained hidden until now. Named the Endorestiform Nucleus by Paxinos, the region is found near the brain-spinal cord junction.
Paxinos suspected that this region existed three decades ago. However, it was only with the advent of modern imaging techniques that he could see it and confirm its existence. He has likened his discovery to finding a new star.
“The region is intriguing because it is absent in monkeys and other animals that we have studied,” said Paxinos, adding, “this region could be what makes humans unique besides our larger brain size.”
Paxinos has said that he is not sure what the function of this region exactly is so far, but he suspects it is related to fine motor control because of its location. The Endorestiform Nucleus is located within the inferior cerebellar peduncle, an area that integrates sensory and motor information to refine our posture, balance and fine motor movements. Therefore this discovery may help medical researchers find cures to problems related to motor function like Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease.
“I can only guess as to its function, but given the part of the brain where it has been found, it might be involved in fine motor control,” says Professor Paxinos.
Paxinos’s brain atlases are considered essential sources for neuroscientists all over the world. They are widely regarded as the most accurate for the identification of brain structures and are also utilized in brain surgery. His latest discovery will be detailed in his new book, titled Human Brainstem: Cytoarchitecture, Chemoarchitecture, Myeloarchitecture, which will be released before the end of this month.