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  • Writer's pictureJulie Manley

Protein found in humans with brain damage also found in woodpecker brain

I thought this was an interesting article.

The protein tau is essential to the function of neurons. However, recent studies have found a link between patients with traumatic brain injuries and a buildup of this particular protein, which is why the researchers chose to examine woodpeckers.

The lead author of the study wondered if the brain of the woodpecker also produces the protein or if its brain has adapted somehow to the repeated impact.

It turns out it's both.

Scientists had come to believe that woodpeckers wouldn't have an accumulation of tau in their brains. After all, their bodies have undergone evolutionary adaptation, such as changes in the beak, the neck muscles and the skull over millions of years.

Despite the findings of tau accumulation, the birds don't exhibit any behaviours suggestive of brain damage. And this is what the researchers hope to further investigate, with the aim of better understanding the role it plays in brain damage in humans.

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