2024 is here! Let’s reflect on things accomplished in 2023. With countless brain advancement studies throughout the world, some have been summarized in a recent posting from LiveScience. Here are some of my favourites!



1. The Brain’s Protective ‘Shield’

In January 2023, scientists revealed a previously unknown part of the brain, which functions like a ‘shield.’ This structure plays a crucial role in clearing away waste and monitoring post-immune cells. It regulates the movement of proteins and molecules, maintaining a delicate balance within the cerebrospinal fluid compartments, a discovery that could have significant implications for understanding brain diseases.


2. Squid and Human Brain Evolution: An Unexpected Connection

Researchers have found intriguing parallels in the neural development of squids and humans. By studying neural progenitor cells in squid embryos, they observed a densely packed structure crucial for forming the squid retina, mirroring similar development stages in vertebrates. This unexpected evolutionary connection offers a new perspective on our own brain’s development.


3. ‘Junk DNA’ and Our Brain’s Evolution

2023 brought the surprising revelation that the genes responsible for the significant growth of human brains might originate from what was once considered ‘junk DNA.’ These non-coding DNA segments appear to play a key role in brain development, challenging our understanding of genetics and evolution.


4. Minibrains: A New Frontier in Treating Brain Injuries

A revolutionary approach to treating brain injuries involves the use of cerebral organoids, or ‘minibrains.’ Developed from human stem cells, these organoids have been successfully transplanted into rats, showing promise in repairing brain injuries, particularly in the visual cortices. This could be a game-changer in regenerative medicine.


5. Psychedelics: A New Wave in Brain Cell Therapy

Psychedelics like LSD, DMT, and psilocybin are stepping into the spotlight as potential therapies for treatment-resistant depression. Researchers now believe these substances work by directly interacting with brain cells, opening new avenues for mental health treatments.


6. Pioneering Brain Surgery in the Womb

In a medical first, doctors performed a brain surgery on a fetus to correct a malformed blood vessel. This ground-breaking procedure, typically done post-birth, has the potential to prevent significant damage or even save lives, marking a milestone in prenatal care.


7. The Most Complete Human Brain Map Yet

2023 saw the unveiling of the most detailed human brain atlas ever created. Detailing the arrangement of 3,300 brain cell types, many of which were previously unknown, this map is a monumental step forward in neuroscience, offering unprecedented insights into our brain’s complex architecture.


8. Bridging AI and the Brain with Minibrains

In a ground-breaking experiment, scientists successfully integrated a brain organoid into an AI system. This hybrid approach allowed the computer to perform tasks and computations, blurring the lines between biological and artificial intelligence and hinting at futuristic applications.


Each discovery not only deepens our understanding of the human brain but also brings hope for new treatments and technologies that could transform lives. I can’t wait to see what 2024 will bring!



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