New mouse model for autism: Mutated gene causes parts of the brain to degenerate, leading to behavioral deficits / Geneticists from Heidelberg publish study in Molecular Psychiatry / Better understanding can help deal with disease

Geneticists at Heidelberg University Hospital’s Department of Molecular Human Genetics have used a new mouse model to demonstrate the way a certain genetic mutation is linked to a type of autism in humans and affects brain development and behavior. In the brain of genetically altered mice, the protein FOXP1 is not synthesized, which is also the case for individuals with a certain form of autism. Consequently, after birth the brain structures degenerate that play a key role in perception. The mice also exhibited abnormal behavior that is typical of autism.

Brain Cell Growth Is Spurred by Protein Absent in Brains of Mice

A protein that may partly explain why human brains are larger than those of other animals has been identified by scientists from two stem-cell labs at UC San Francisco, in research published in the November 13, 2014 issue of Nature.

Key experiments by the UCSF researchers revealed that the protein, called PDGFD, is made in growing brains of humans, but not in mice, and appears necessary for normal proliferation of human brain stem cells growing in a lab dish.

Findings can help in patient treatment and in development of injury-prevention programs

This week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine features an article that highlights an unprecedented analysis of the nation’s childhood head injuries. The study, authored by physicians at UC Davis School of Medicine and Washington University School of Medicine, analyzed more than 43,000 children who were evaluated for head trauma at 25 emergency departments around the United States.

An educational approach focused on the development of children's executive functions - the ability to avoid distractions, focus attention, hold relevant information in working memory, and regulate impulsive behavior - improved academic learning in and beyond kindergarten, according to a new study by researchers at NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

In new research appearing in the Journal of Neuroscience, a team led by Professor Allan Herbison shows that male-specific signalling in the Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons of new-born mice is crucial to generating a testosterone surge that occurs up to five hours after birth.

Otago researchers have discovered that neural circuitry they previously showed was vital to triggering ovulation and maintaining fertility also plays a key role in moulding the male brain.

In new research appearing in the Journal of Neuroscience, a team led by Professor Allan Herbison shows that male-specific signalling in the Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons of new-born mice is crucial to generating a testosterone surge that occurs up to five hours after birth.