Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MIT researcher presents new view of how the cortex forms

14.11.2005


A leading neuroscientist at MIT and one from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) report in the Nov. 4 special issue of Science dedicated to the brain that the controversy is over: The "protomap" and "protocortex" theories of brain development are dead.



The cerebral cortex is a sheet of around 10 billion neurons divided into distinctly separate areas that process particular aspects of sensation, movement and cognition. To what extent are these areas predetermined by genes or shaped by the environment? The protomap and protocortex theories developed before 1990 claimed, respectively, that the task-specific regions of the cortex are spawned by a zone of "originator" cells; or that long nerve fibers from the thalamus, a large ovoid mass that relays information to the cortex from other brain regions, are activated by external stimuli to impose identity on the homogeneous blob.

New evidence indicates that the development of cortical areas involves "a rich array of signals," an interwoven cascade of developmental events, some internal and some external, according to co-authors Mriganka Sur, Sherman Fairchild Professor of Neuroscience at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and John L. R. Rubenstein of UCSF.


"Recent evidence has altered researchers’ understanding of how cortical areas form, connect with other brain regions, develop unique processing networks and adapt to changes in inputs," Sur said. "Understanding basic mechanisms of cortical development is central to understanding disorders of development."

Sur, chair of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, is leading an ambitious, multifaceted approach to understanding the genetic, molecular and behavioral aspects of autism.

In the Science review article, "Patterning and Plasticity of the Cerebral Cortex," Sur and Rubenstein point out that transcription factors are key. A transcription factor is a protein that binds DNA at a specific site where it regulates transcription, or the process of copying genetic material.

In the brain’s early prenatal development, transcription factors control the birth and growth of new neurons, neurons’ movement and connectivity within the brain, and which ones live and which are killed off.

Later, at a critical point in development, activity in the form of outside stimulation refines the brain’s topography and networks to create the specific functions and areas of the postnatal mammalian brain.

Patti Richards | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

A new dead zone in the Indian Ocean could impact future marine nutrient balance

06.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

06.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>