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EURYI project to understand how the brain wires during embryogenesis
Date:9/21/2007

One of the great questions of neurobiology, how the brain is built up during embryonic development, could be resolved by a young French scientist in an award winning project organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the European Heads of Research Councils (EuroHORCS). Sonia Garel has won one of the prestigious EURYI Awards granted annually to young scientists, to pursue her ground breaking research into mammalian forebrain development. She will tackle a number of fundamental questions relating both to the wiring of the brain during growth, and how evolution drove forward the sophisticated neural circuitry associated with mammals.

Garel will focus on two key processes involved in development of neural circuitry in the forebrains of young mammals as they grow. One of these processes concerns the formation of connections between neurons, the nerve cells of the brain. These connections are needed to process sensory information, execute motor functions, and provide the network for cognitive abilities. They are made up of nerve fibres called axons, which conduct electrical impulses between neurons. The other key process involves migration of brain cells to their correct positions after their manufacture. As Garel noted, these two processes are coordinated in the development of the mammalian brain, and yet have until now been studied separately for the sake of simplicity. Garel and her colleagues have already broken new ground by demonstrating the link between axon formation, and migration of cells, within the brain.

While axon guidance and cell migration have been usually studied as independent processes, our group has shown for the first time that they are elegantly coordinated to ensure the formation of a major long-range connection of the mammalian brain, the thalamocortical projection, said Garel. The thalamocortical projection is one of the significant evolutionary developments of the forebrain, comprising bundles of axonal connections lin
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Contact: Thomas Lau
tlau@esf.org
33-388-762-158
European Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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