Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hyperactive brain cells could be early hint of autism

Hyperactive brain cells firing together could be an early indicator of autism and developmental
disabilities, a team of UCLA researchers has found.

Networks of neurons were found to be firing in a highly synchronized and seemingly unrelenting fashion, even through sleep, in the brains of juvenile mice that have a genetic abnormality similar to one that causes mental retardation and autism symptoms in humans, according to the research published online Monday in Nature Neuroscience.

Without independently firing neurons, the human brain would be about as functionally complicated as a digital switch. With it, we compose poetry and send robotic carts to Mars.

"If you want to code information, you can’t just have all the cells fire together or not, because then that’s just binary. It goes up and down," said UCLA neuroscientist Carlos Portera-Cailliau, a lead author of the report. “But if you have billions of neurons, all firing independently or in small clusters, then you can code a lot of information.”

That “de-synchronization” was greatly diminished in the neocortex of the juvenile mice that had been altered so that they lack the same protein known to cause mental retardation and autistic behaviors in humans.

Read the whole story at the LATimes

No comments:

Post a Comment