Adult Brain Neurons Can Remodel Connections

Brain Synapses

Brain Synapses

By Deborah Halber, News Office Correspondent from Science Daily

Overturning a century of prevailing thought, scientists are finding that neurons in the adult brain can remodel their connections. In work reported in the Nov. 24 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Elly Nedivi, associate professor of neurobiology at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and colleagues found that a type of neuron implicated in autism spectrum disorders remodels itself in a strip of brain tissue only as thick as four sheets of tissue paper at the upper border of cortical layer 2. “This work is particularly exciting because it sheds new light on the potential flexibility of cerebral cortex circuitry and architecture in higher-level brain regions that contribute to perception and cognition,” said Nedivi, who is also affiliated with MIT’s departments of brain and cognitive sciences and biology. “Our goal is to extract clues regarding the contribution of structural remodeling to long-term adult brain plasticity — the brain’s ability to change in response to input from the environment — and what allows or limits this plasticity.”

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