Obstetrics & gynaecology

Nut intake in first trimester may benefit child neurodevelopment

(HealthDay)—Nut intake during the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with long-term child neuropsychological development, according to a study published online May 7 in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

Medical research

Connecting neurons in the brain

The brain consists of a large collection of interconnected neurons. How complex patterns of neuronal cells grow into functioning circuits during development has fascinated researchers for decades. A team of scientists at ...

Autism spectrum disorders

Autism diagnoses prove highly stable as early as 14 months

Diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by trained professionals in children as young as 14 months are remarkably stable, suggesting that accurate screening and earlier treatment is feasible, report scientists at University ...

Medical research

No safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy, suggest researchers

An international group of researchers has taken one of the first major steps in finding the biological changes in the brain that drive fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). New work using chaos theory to analyze brain signals, ...

Medical research

More evidence that blood tests can detect the risk of Alzheimer's

A new study confirms that a simple blood test can reveal whether there is accelerating nerve cell damage in the brain. The researchers analysed neurofilament light protein (NFL) in blood samples from patients with Alzheimer's ...

Neuroscience

Proteins stand up to nerve cell regression

A study by Duke-NUS Medical School has found that members of the multiprotein 'Integrator complex', known for its role in gene regulation, are crucial for healthy brain development in fruit flies. The findings have implications ...

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Neural development

The study of neural development draws on both neuroscience and developmental biology to describe the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which complex nervous systems emerge during embryonic development and throughout life.

Some landmarks of embryonic neural development include the birth and differentiation of neurons from stem cell precursors, the migration of immature neurons from their birthplaces in the embryo to their final positions, outgrowth of axons from neurons and guidance of the motile growth cone through the embryo towards postsynaptic partners, the generation of synapses between these axons and their postsynaptic partners, and finally the lifelong changes in synapses which are thought to underlie learning and memory.

Typically, these neurodevelopmental processes can be broadly divided into two classes: activity-independent mechanisms and activity-dependent mechanisms. Activity-independent mechanisms are generally believed to occur as hardwired processes determined by genetic programs played out within individual neurons. These include differentiation, migration and axon guidance to their initial target areas. These processes are thought of as being independent of neural activity and sensory experience. Once axons reach their target areas, activity-dependent mechanisms come into play. Neural activity and sensory experience will mediate formation of new synapses, as well as synaptic plasticity, which will be responsible for refinement of the nascent neural circuits.

Developmental neuroscience uses a variety of animal models including mice Mus musculus , the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster , the zebrafish Danio rerio, Xenopus laevis tadpoles and the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, among others.

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