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Before birth, the human brain spends many busy months producing nerve cells and the connections between them. Scientists are increasingly interested in the many factors and processes influencing brain development. By understanding the steps to build a healthy brain, researchers can gain insight into what goes wrong in disorders of brain development and clues about how to repair the brain following injury. Advanced technology is helping identify key molecules involved in making nerve cells; guiding them to specific locations; directing where they lay down connections; and assigning the chemicals the cells will use to communicate. This information could one day guide the development of new therapies for people with degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, or brain damage from stroke or injury. This research could also inform what scientists understand about autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia, which are thought to be caused by disruptions in brain development.


Source: Society for Neuroscience
Changes to cellular batteries known as mitochondria may be important for the development of new brain cells.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
Neuron formation begins in the earliest stages of human development. Signaling molecules “turn on” certain genes and “turn off” others, beginning nerve cell induction.
Source: Society for Neuroscience
Genes and the environment converge powerfully during early sensitive windows of brain development to form the neural circuits underlying behavior. Although most neuronal cell death occurs in the embryo, the paring down of connections occurs in large part during critical periods in early postnatal life.
Source: TED
Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive and so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Hear neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore explain in this TED talk.

Brain Development in the News

Source: The Guardian
Date: 5 Sept 2014

Scientific studies suggest that differences in the prefrontal cortex could account for the impulsive actions of young people.

Source: ABC
Date: 27 April 2014
Researchers are decoding the genomic blueprints of comb jellies to learn which genes switch on and off as the animals perform such tasks as regeneration.
Source: WIRED
Date: 2 April 2014
Scientists released a high-resolution map of the fetal human brain that contains information about gene activity during cerebral cortex development.