Bracelets 4 Autism


Brain Development Steered By Newly Discovered RNA

Article Date: 16 Apr 2010 – 0:00 PDT

How does the brain work? This question is one of the greatest scientific mysteries, and neurobiologists have only recently begun to piece together the molecular building blocks that enable human beings to be “thinking” animals.

One fundamental property of the mammalian brain is that it continues to develop after birth, and one of the biggest drivers of the formation of new links between neurons is experience. Every time a baby sticks her finger on a pin or laughs in response to an adult’s embellished gestures, a cascade of genetic activity is triggered in her brain that results in new, and perhaps even lifelong, synaptic connections.

New research from the lab of Michael Greenberg, Nathan Marsh Pusey professor and chair of neurobiology at HMS, in collaboration with bioinformatics specialist and neuroscientist Gabriel Kreiman, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Children’s Hospital, Boston, has found that a particular set of RNA molecules widely considered to be no more than a genomic oddity are actually major players in brain development – and are essential for regulating the process by which neurons absorb the outside world into their genetic machinery.

“This discovery may inform disorders of cognition such as autism spectrum disorders,” says Greenberg. “It’s incredibly important to know all about the brain’s genetic regulatory mechanisms in order to think more deeply about how to develop therapies for treating these sorts of conditions.”

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Big Brain Responses Triggered By Sights And Sounds Of Emotion

Article Date: 03 Nov 2009 – 6:00 PST

Researchers at the University of York have identified a part of the brain that responds to both facial and vocal expressions of emotion.

They used the MagnetoEncephaloGraphic (MEG) scanner at the York Neuroimaging Centre to test responses in a region of the brain known as the posterior superior temporal sulcus.

The research team from the University’s Department of Psychology and York Neuroimaging Centre found that the posterior superior temporal sulcus responds so strongly to a face plus a voice that it clearly has a ‘multimodal’ rather than an exclusively visual function. The research is published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Test participants were shown photographs of people with fearful and neutral facial expressions, and were played fearful and neutral vocal sounds, separately and together. Responses in the posterior superior temporal sulcus were substantially heightened when subjects could both see and hear the emotional faces and voices, but not when subjects could both see and hear the neutral faces and voices.

Researchers believe that the finding could help in the study of autism and other neuro-developmental disorders which exhibit face perception deficits.

Lead researcher Dr Cindy Hagan said: “Previous models of face perception suggested that this region of the brain responds to the face alone, but we demonstrated a supra-additive response to emotional faces and voices presented together – the response was greater than the sum of the parts.”

Professor Andy Young added: “This is important because emotions in everyday life are often intrinsically multimodal – expressed through face, posture and voice at the same time.”

The research involved tests on 19 people using York Neuroimaging Centre’s £1.1 million MEG scanner which provides a non-invasive way of mapping the magnetic fields created by electrical activity in the brain.

Source: David Garner
University of York

link: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/169659.php