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:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016   Acuant ... and verification solutions, has partnered with RightCrowd ... solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks and ... products that add functional enhancements to existing ... corporations and venues with an automated ID ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... 16, 2016 The global ... to reach USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according ... Inc. Technological proliferation and increasing demand in commercial ... to drive the market growth.      ... The development of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric ...
(Date:6/7/2016)...  Syngrafii Inc. and San Antonio Credit Union ... integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature "Wet" solution into ... result in greater convenience for SACU members and ... existing document workflow and compliance requirements. ... Highlights: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016  Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... healthier lives through the development of innovative products and ... the United States denied its petition ... claims of Sequenom,s U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 (",540 Patent") ... established by the Supreme Court,s Mayo Collaborative Services v. ...
(Date:6/27/2016)...  Liquid Biotech USA , ... Sponsored Research Agreement with The University of Pennsylvania ... cancer patients.  The funding will be used to ... clinical outcomes in cancer patients undergoing a variety ... employed to support the design of a therapeutic, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona ... or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are the subject of a new article on the ... are signposts in the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that can ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... A person commits a crime, and the detective ... the criminal down. An outbreak of foodborne illness ... (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the bacteria that ... It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a complex, cutting-edge ... illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome sequencing is ...
Breaking Biology Technology: