Myers, et al. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2014.
In the early stages of life, brain cells must migrate from their place of birth to the brain regions they will eventually occupy. One type of cell that makes this journey is interneurons – cells which, in some cases, continue to migrate through adulthood. These cells signal other neurons to stop firing and help to keep brain activity in check. In the image above, interneurons (green and yellow) are travelling to the developing cerebral cortex in a young mouse brain, forming highways of migratory cells.
Dysfunction of interneurons has been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, epilepsy, and schizophrenia, and scientists think that the dysfunction may result from problems in this migration process. Studying how interneurons find their way could shed light on how these disorders develop and could pave the way for new treatment strategies.