Navigation Links
Making your brain social
Date:2/2/2014

In many people with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, different parts of the brain don't talk to each other very well. Scientists have now identified, for the first time, a way in which this decreased functional connectivity can come about. In a study published online today in Nature Neuroscience, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Monterotondo, Italy, and collaborators at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), in Rovereto, and La Sapienza University in Rome, demonstrate that it can be caused by cells called microglia failing to trim connections between neurons.

"We show that a deficit in microglia during development can have widespread and long-lasting effects on brain wiring and behaviour," says Cornelius Gross, who led the study. "It leads to weak brain connectivity, decreased social behaviour, and increased repetitive behaviour, all hallmarks of autism."

The findings indicate that, by trimming surplus connections in the developing brain, microglia allow the remaining links to grow stronger, like high-speed fibre-optic cables carrying strong signals between brain regions. But if these cells fail to do their job at that crucial stage of development, those brain regions are left with a weaker communication network, which in turn has lifelong effects on behaviour.

Yang Zhan, a postdoctoral fellow in Gross' lab at EMBL, analysed the strength of connections between different areas of brain in mice that were genetically engineered to have fewer microglia during development. Working with Alessandro Gozzi's lab at IIT and Davide Ragozzino at La Sapienza University, the EMBL scientists combined this approach with high-resolution fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans of the mice's brains, taking full advantage of a novel technique developed at IIT, which enables scientists to obtain detailed, three-dimensional maps of the brain's functional connections. The team found that mice with fewer microglia had weaker connections between neurons, and less cross-talk between different brain regions. When Rosa Paolicelli, a PhD student in Gross' lab, studied the mice's behaviour, she discovered that mice with fewer microglia and decreased connectivity displayed behaviours commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders. These mice spent more time repeatedly grooming themselves, and avoided social interactions.

"This is an exciting time to be studying microglia," Gross concludes: "they're turning out to be major players in how our brain gets wired up."


'/>"/>
Contact: Sonia Furtado Neves
sonia.furtado@embl.de
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Making memories: How 1 protein does it
2. Killer silk: Making silk fibers that kill anthrax and other microbes in minutes
3. Chemical engineers at UMass Amherst find high-yield method of making xylene from biomass
4. Copper making salmon prone to predators
5. Making healthy food affordable and appealing for low-income populations
6. Winemaking goes high-tech at the University of British Columbia
7. For gay couples, condom decision-making and condom use varies by race
8. Making sense out of the biological matrix of bipolar disorder
9. Making memories: Drexel researchers explore the anatomy of recollection
10. Making chocolate an affordable luxury
11. Are bacteria making you hungry?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Making your brain social
(Date:4/15/2016)... Research and Markets has announced ... 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... global gait biometrics market is expected to grow ... 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates multiple variables ... to compute factors that are not or cannot ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... PROVO and SANDY, Utah ... (NSO), which operates the highest sample volume laboratory in ... Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing informatics ... the launch of a project to establish the informatics ... NSO has been contracted by the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2016)... AVIV, Israel , May 24, 2016   MedyMatch ... providing physicians with artificial intelligence, real-time decision support tools in ... to present at the 2016 Israeli Advanced Technology Industries (IATI) ... of Israel,s 15th National Life Sciences ... 26th at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... 23, 2016 , ... PrecisionAg® Media has released its latest ... The paper outlines the key trends that are creating both opportunities and challenges ... lot of highs and lows as the precision agriculture market has grown and ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... May 23, 2016 , ... RoviSys, a leading ... in Aurora, Ohio, has broken ground on a new building in Holly Springs, ... area, this new location solidifies a commitment to business in the region. The ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... ... May 20, 2016 , ... Kablooe Design, a leading provider of ... its official 25th anniversary of the business. “We have worked hard to build long-term ... customers for the privilege and honor of serving their product design and development needs ...
Breaking Biology Technology: