Psychology & Psychiatry

Adolescents have a fundamental need to contribute

No longer children but not yet adults, adolescents need opportunities to learn and prepare for their entrance into the broader society. But, as schooling increasingly extends the adolescent period and teenagers get dismissed ...

Genetics

Probing hyperexcitability in fragile X syndrome

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have gained insight into a feature of fragile X syndrome, which is also seen in other neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Medical research

Supplement makes (mouse) moms' milk better; pups benefit for life

Giving mouse moms a supplement called nicotinamide riboside (NR) while they are nursing provides physical and behavioral benefits to both mothers and pups, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Iowa.

Medical research

Researchers zero in on type of cancer that killed John McCain

Hope for treating the kind of brain cancer that took the life of U.S. Sen. John McCain lies with a compound, identified by researchers at UWM and the Medical College of Wisconsin, that slows the growth of this aggressive ...

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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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