Reactivated plasticity points to new treatments for developmental disorders
Irvine, Calif., May 18, 2015 — They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The same can be said of the adult brain. Its connections are hard to change, while in children, novel experiences rapidly mold new connections during critical periods of brain development.
UC Irvine neurobiologist, Professor Sunil Gandhi and his colleagues wanted to know whether the flexibility of the juvenile brain could be restored to the adult brain. Apparently, it can: They’ve successfully re-created a critical juvenile period in the brains of adult mice. In other words, the researchers have reactivated brain plasticity – the rapid and robust changes in neural pathways and synapses as a result of learning and experience.
And in doing so, they’ve cleared a trail for further study that may lead to new treatments for developmental brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. Results of their study appear online in Neuron.
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