Brain Development

Brain's Master Switch is Verified

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
May 9, 2010
Abstract: 

Yeon-Kyun Shin, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology at ISU, has shown that the protein called synaptotagmin1 (Syt1) is the sole trigger for the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Shin believes his discovery may be useful in understanding brain malfunctions such as autism, epilepsy and others.

UT Southwestern researchers uncover fragile X syndrome gene's role

Source: 
EurekAlert
Date Published: 
May 7, 2010
Abstract: 

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered how the genetic mutation that causes Fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation, interferes with the "pruning" of nerve connections in the brain. They found Fragile X is caused by a mutation in a single gene, Fmr1, on the X chromosome. The gene codes for a protein called FMRP, which plays a role in learning and memory but whose full function is unknown. The protein's role in pruning nerve connections had been unclear.

Brain Development Steered By Newly Discovered RNA

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
April 16, 2010
Abstract: 

New research from the lab of Michael Greenberg, Nathan Marsh Pusey professor and chair of neurobiology at HMS, in collaboration with bioinformatics specialist and neuroscientist Gabriel Kreiman, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Children's Hospital, Boston, has found that a particular set of RNA molecules widely considered to be no more than a genomic oddity are actually major players in brain development - and are essential for regulating the process by which neurons absorb the outside world into their genetic machinery.

More Accurate Picture of Autistic Brain

Source: 
HealCanal.com
Date Published: 
April 13, 2010
Abstract: 

A new study, the first of its kind, combines two complementary analytical brain imaging techniques to provide a more comprehensive and accurate picture of the neuroanatomy of the autistic brain.

First Direct Recording Made of Mirror Neurons in Human Brain

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
April 13, 2010
Abstract: 

Neuroscientists believe this "mirroring" is the mechanism by which we can "read" the minds of others and empathize with them. It's how we "feel" someone's pain, how we discern a grimace from a grin, a smirk from a smile. Problem was, there was no proof that mirror neurons existed -- only suspicion and indirect evidence. Dr. Itzhak Fried, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, Roy Mukamel, a postdoctoral fellow in Fried's lab, and their colleagues have for the first time made a direct recording of mirror neurons in the human brain.

It's suspected that dysfunction of these mirror cells might be involved in disorders such as autism, where the clinical signs can include difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication, imitation and having empathy for others. So gaining a better understanding of the mirror neuron system might help devise strategies for treatment of this disorder.

Autism Susceptibility Genes Identified

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
March 26, 2010
Abstract: 

Two genes have been associated with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) in a new study of 661 families. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's newly launched journal Molecular Autism found that variations in the genes for two brain proteins, LRRN3 and LRRTM3, were significantly associated with susceptibility to ASD.

Brain Becomes Tuned to Voices and Emotional Tone of Voice During Pregnancy

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
March 24, 2010
Abstract: 

New research finds that the brains of infants as young as 7 months old demonstrate a sensitivity to the human voice and to emotions communicated through the voice that is remarkably similar to what is observed in the brains of adults.

Longitude Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Cortical Development Through Early Childhood in Autism

Source: 
Journal of Neuroscience, Courchesne et al
Date Published: 
March 2010
Year Published: 
2010

The first longitudinal study of brain growth in toddlers at the time symptoms of autism are becoming clinically apparent using structural MRI scans at multiple time points beginning at 1.5 years up to 5 years of age. They collected 193 scans on 41 toddlers who received a confirmed diagnosis of autistic disorder at approximately 48 months of age and 44 typically developing controls. By 2.5 years of age, both cerebral gray and white matter were significantly enlarged in toddlers with autistic disorder, with the most severe enlargement occurring in frontal, temporal, and cingulate cortices. In the longitudinal analyses, which they accounted for age and gender effect, we found that all regions (cerebral gray, cerebral white, frontal gray, temporal gray, cingulate gray, and parietal gray) except occipital gray developed at an abnormal growth rate in toddlers with autistic disorder that was mainly characterized by a quadratic age effect. Females with autistic disorder displayed a more pronounced abnormal growth profile in more brain regions than males with the disorder. Given that overgrowth clearly begins before 2 years of age, future longitudinal studies would benefit from inclusion of even younger populations as well as further characterization of genetic and other biomarkers to determine the underlying neuropathological processes causing the onset of autistic symptoms.

Reading Remediation Seems to Rewire the Brain

Source: 
US News & World Report
Date Published: 
February 26, 2010
Abstract: 

Scientists studying the anatomy of children's brains during reading discovered something rather unexpected: Remedial training for poor readers results in a growth of white matter tracts in the brain, and the increase correlates with the level of improvement in sounding out words.

Music Training Enhances Brainstem Activity to Speech Sounds

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
February 22, 2010
Abstract: 

At a Feb. 20 press briefing held during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, a Northwestern University neuroscientist argued that music training has profound effects that shape the sensory system and should be a mainstay of K-12 education. Kraus presented her own research and the research of other neuroscientists suggesting music education can be an effective strategy in helping typically developing children as well as children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately encode speech.