Disorders Appear Early In Brain Development

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In the human brain, the first nerve cells develop in a region called the ‘subplate’. Neurons here act as the foundation for the complex neural connections that will eventually stretch across the brain. It is here, as Alexandra Sifferlin of Time reports, that researchers in England observed that genes linked to autism and schizophrenia are only active during brief, early stages of brain development.

Despite their short time at work, the genes have far reaching effects because they appear so early in the developmental process. This would seem to mean that although identifying a child at risk for developing autism or schizophrenia could be possible days after birth, or even possibly in utero, stopping the process entirely and avoiding these disorders could prove to be extremely difficult.

This particular study was conducted on mice, whose sublate region is less evolved and considerably smaller than humans. Much more research is needed in order to provide practical applications for these findings.

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