Scientists find potential clues to autism

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London, Jan 13 (ANI): Scientists from Children's National Medical Centre have identified key developmental mechanisms of the amygdala - a brain region critical in processing and memory of emotional reactions.

The finding may provide insights into autism.

Using studies of embryonic mice, the researchers have identified a group of precursor cells of neurons that are set aside specifically for the amygdala, and are crucial to the growth and development for this portion of the brain.

Autism and similar disorders are often attributed to altered function of this region.

"Despite its central role in normal brain function and behaviour, little has been known about how neuronal cell diversity is generated during development of the amygdala," Nature quoted senior author Joshua Corbin, PhD, of the Centre for Neuroscience Research at Children's National as saying.

"It was thought that development of this region occurred similarly to other brain structures like the cerebral cortex, but our findings indicate that a specific precursor pool exists that is pre-assigned exclusively to the limbic system.

"It is a breakthrough to our understanding of this little studied region of the brain.

"A more clear understanding of the normal development of this important brain structure provides a roadmap to understand the consequences of altered brain development in neurodevelopmental disorders," Corbin added.

The study appears in February edition of Nature Neuroscience. (ANI)

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