Navigation Links
Engineers study brain folding in higher mammals
Date:10/1/2007

Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis are finding common ground between the shaping of the brain and the heart during embryonic development.

Larry A.Taber, Ph.D., the Dennis and Barbara Kessler Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Phillip Bayly, Ph.D., Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering, are examining mechanical and developmental processes that occur in the folding of the brains surface, or cortex, which gives the higher mammalian brain more surface area (and hence more intellectual capacity) than a brain of comparable volume with a smooth surface.

Folding is very important in human brain development because some of the worst neurological problems such as schizophrenia, autism and lissenchephaly (smoothness of the cortex, found with severe retardation) are associated with abnormal brain folding. The neuromuscular disorder dystonia is possibly associated with faulty connectivity in the brain, which has been hypothesized to affect cortical folding. The researchers hope that increased understanding of brain folding might someday help prevent such diseases.

Although folding is generally what makes higher mammals smart, Albert Einstein had an abnormally folded brain that resulted in genius. Certain folds in his brain were absent, which might have enabled the area associated with mathematical reasoning to be larger than normal because it didnt have a boundary to restrict its growth.

Looping, folding

According to Taber, the heart and the brain both begin as simple tubes that eventually develop in totally different ways. Looping is a key phenomenon in the early embryo where the tubular heart bends and rotates in a precise manner. Taber has found that the processes of bending and rotation in the embryonic heart are actually driven by at least two different mechanical forces. His research could help scientists better understand the roles physics and mechanics play in the normal developing heart and in the genesis of heart defects.

Bayly researches the mechanics of brain injury, recently looking into brain deformation due to acceleration of the intact skull. Both have long been aware of a theory posited by their colleague, David Van Essen, Ph.D., the Edison Professor of Neurobiology and head of the School of Medicines Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Van Essens hypothesis, published in 1997 in the journal Nature, is a mechanical theory based on tension in the axons (the wiring through which nerve cells communicate). The essence of the hypothesis is that tension in axons is the driving force of folding. Van Essens theory is one of only about a half dozen in the literature concerning the mechanical process of folding. In contrast, much more is known about the genetics of the brain and heart.

Were not sure of the similarities between heart looping and brain folding, Taber said. But there are only a handful of processes that cells use to create shape and form in the embryo. Developing brain and heart cells have the same basic tool set but somehow they integrate them in different ways. Were concerned primarily with the mechanics of how these organs are constructed.

Results so far are only preliminary. Post-doctoral researcher Gang Xu has obtained unexpected data from adult mouse brains in studies performed primarily to demonstrate feasibility of their approach.

Weve observed measurable, sustained tension in the axons, Bayly said. This is significant, because its what David Van Essens theory predicts is necessary for folding.

They are now doing MRI research on newborn ferrets. The ferret is the smallest mammal that has a folded brain, and unlike humans, folding occurs after the animal is born.

Washington University post doctoral in biomedical engineering researcher Gang Xu gave a presentation on the research at the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, held Sept. 27-29 in Los Angeles.


'/>"/>

Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
tony_fitzpatrick@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Duke engineers develop new 3-D cardiac imaging probe
2. Engineers improve plastics potential for use in implants by linking it to biological material
3. MIT engineers an anti-cancer smart bomb
4. Scientists and engineers apply natures design to human problems
5. Engineers discover why toucan beaks are models of lightweight strength
6. Bioengineers create stable networks of blood vessels
7. Rice bioengineers pioneer techniques for knee repair
8. UW-Madison engineers squeeze secrets from proteins
9. MIT engineers probe spiders polymer art
10. Boston University biomedical engineers win major grant for pursuit of the $1,000 Genome
11. Bioartificial kidney under study at MCG
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/3/2017)... Feb. 3, 2017  Texas Biomedical Research Institute announced that ... Larry Schlesinger as the Institute,s new President and CEO. ... May 31, 2017. He is currently the Chair of the ... Center for Microbial Interface Biology at Ohio State University. ... new President and CEO of Texas Biomed," said Dr. ...
(Date:2/2/2017)...  Central to its deep commitment to honor ... Japan Prize Foundation today announced the laureates of ... envelope in their respective fields of Life Sciences ... being recognized with the 2017 Japan Prize for ... to the advancement of science and technology, but ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... , Jan. 26, 2017  Crossmatch, a leading provider ... new solution aimed at combatting fraud, waste and abuse ... introduced at the Action on Disaster Relief conference in ... point for UN agencies and foreign assistance organizations throughout ... waste and abuse are a largely unacknowledged problem in ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... 23, 2017 , ... Brain Sentinel, Inc. has received US ... System, the Brain Sentinel® Seizure Monitoring and Alerting System. The adjunctive seizure monitoring ... of rest. A lightweight, non-invasive monitor is placed on the belly of the ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... Today, researchers ... CRP, adiponectin, uric acid, and/or other biomarkers or SNPs of interest) using one, ... Salimetrics’ SalivaLab , the relationship between insulin and other relevant biomarkers can be ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... SAN DIEGO , Feb. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... protein research tools, announced the acquisition of GenWay ... with a comprehensive service and product offering for ... "This acquisition will facilitate growth and enhance capabilities ... proteins, antibodies, and ELISA assays will nicely complement ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... , Feb. 22, 2017  Aratana Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: PETX), ... commercialization of innovative biopharmaceutical products for companion animals, will host ... 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss financial results from the fourth ... Interested participants and investors may access the audio ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: