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Network Failure

Bisphenol A – a ubiquitous chemical encountered in everyday life – disrupts neurological function

22 August 2022

Network Failure

October 2021 saw the biggest communications outage in history. Facebook went down. Although the disruption only lasted six hours, it caused worldwide chaos and cost Mark Zuckerberg $6 billion. Researchers have discovered that our brains experience similar network failures in response to bisphenol A. We’re exposed to this chemical every day – it’s in food packaging, shopping receipts, and medical equipment. Here, we see neurons (black) from mice exposed to bisphenol A for two months. Compared to untreated cells, the number of dendritic spines on these neurons decreased by 42%. These long thin structures allow neurons to talk to each other, and are vital for learning and memory. Mice exposed to bisphenol A suffered from anxiety and disrupted memory processing, and the scientists have uncovered how the chemical causes these changes to the brain’s network. This work explains how a ubiquitous chemical can disturb our brains, supporting efforts to regulate its use.

Written by Henry Stennett

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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