Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why does brain development diverge from normal in autism spectrum disorders?

Why does brain development diverge from normal in autism spectrum disorders?

What hasn't been clear is why children start out developing normally, only to become progressively abnormal.

New research from Children's Hospital Boston, published in the April 14 issue of Neuron, helps unravel what's going on.

The researchers, led by Chinfei Chen, MD, PhD, of Children's F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, studied synapse development in mice with a mutation in the MeCP2 gene, the same gene linked to human Rett syndrome. They found strong evidence that the loss of functioning MeCP2 prevents synapses and circuits from maturing and refining in response to cues from the environment -- just at the time when babies' brains should be maximally receptive to these cues.



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