Astrocyte, the new star of the show.

Freshly Isolated Astrocyte, viewed using Leica DM IRE2, 400x magnification DICMammalian brain is a curious thing. Powerful, yet elegant piece of machinery that allows us mammalians to function. Among the many cells contained within the brain, not many is as enigmatic as astrocytes. Many would argue that neurons are the forefront of neuroscience research, and they would probably not be wrong. Recently, however, a new underdog is rapidly rising in the neuroscience research, reaching a stardom status, just like its cousin cell line; that's right, astrocytes. My professor dubbed astrocytes as "the most boring cell in the brain", due to its non-excitability; that is, unlike neurons that constantly fires (through massive ionic movement), astrocytes mostly stay silent and  would rather stand behind the curtains. What they are doing behind the curtains, on the other hand, have been a mystery since the dawn of astrocytic research. The majority of past neuroscientist argues that they perform supportive roles to neurons, while other more recent neuroscientist argue that they are involved in many signaling pathways critical for neuron survival, function, learning, and work. In fact, astrocytes could definitely perform all of the obove, and more. One thing is clear, that the study of astrocytes is now an inevitable part of neuroscience, and will gain more footage as time passes. All that said, here is a picture of an astrocyte at 400x magnification, taken using a Leica DM IRE2, using the DIC method. The cell shows bush-like processes surrounding the soma (cell body). -Adi