Follow Us:
Saturday, May 21, 2022

Brain development is ‘choreographed’: study

Findings emphasise importance of interplay between genes and environment in child's initial years.

Written by PTI | Washington |
December 29, 2013 12:30:57 pm

The human brain develops with an exquisitely timed choreography marked by distinct patterns of gene activity at different stages from the womb to adulthood,scientists say.

Researchers from the Yale University conducted a large-scale analysis of gene activity in cerebral neocortex – an area of the brain governing perception,behaviour,and cognition – at different stages of development.

The analysis shows the general architecture of brain regions is largely formed in the first six months after conception by a burst of genetic activity,which is distinct for specific regions of the neocortex.

This rush is followed by a sort of intermission beginning in the third trimester of pregnancy. During this period,most genes that are active in specific brain regions are quieted,except for genes that spur connections between all neocortex regions,researchers said.

Best of Express Premium

Mehbooba Mufti interview: ‘Of course PDP is going to fight election...Premium
Why is NCP chief Sharad Pawar meeting Brahmin community leaders in Pune t...Premium
The first stop for Azam, son out of jail was this SP leader’s housePremium
Abhinav Prakash Singh writes: At stake in Gyanvapi, the hopes of a civili...Premium

Then in late childhood and early adolescence,the genetic orchestra begins again and helps subtly shape neocortex regions that progressively perform more specialised tasks,a process that continues into adulthood.

The analysis is the first to show this “hour glass” sketch of human brain development,with a lull in genetic activity sandwiched between highly complex patterns of gene expression,said Nenad Sestan,professor of neurobiology at Yale’s Kavli Institute for Neuroscience and senior author of the study.

Researchers said some of the same patterns of genetic activity that define this human “hour glass” sketch were not observed in developing monkeys,indicating that they may play a role in shaping the features specific to human brain development.

The findings emphasise the importance of the proper interplay between genes and environment in the child’s earliest years after birth when the formation of synaptic connections between brain cells becomes synchronised,which shape how brain structures will be used later in life,said Sestan.

For instance,disruptions of in synchronisation of synaptic connections during child’s earliest years have been implicated in autism.

Sestan said the human brain is more like a neighbourhood,which is better defined by the community living within its borders than its buildings.

“The neighbourhoods get built quickly and then everything slows down and the neocortex focuses solely on developing connections,almost like an electrical grid,” said Sestan.

The study was published in the journal Neuron.

For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard