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Indian-origin scientist helps restore youthful flexibility to old brains

Indian-origin scientist helps restore youthful flexibility to old brains
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Indian Origin Scientist Helps Restore Youthful Flexibility To Old Brains. A team of scientists, including one of an Indian-origin, has devised a...

New York: A team of scientists, including one of an Indian-origin, has devised a method to restore youthful flexibility in old brains, thereby paving the way to new treatments for developmental brain disorders like Autism and Schizophrenia.

Neurobiologist Sunil Gandhi and colleagues from University of California-Irvine successfully re-created a critical juvenile period in the brains of adult mice and in the process they corrected a sight disorder with which the mice were afflicted with.

The scientists achieved this by transplanting a certain type of embryonic neuron into the brains of adult mice. The transplanted neurons express gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) cells that aid in motor control, vision and many other cortical functions.

The researchers pointed out that much like older muscles lose their youthful flexibility, older brains lose plasticity - the rapid and robust changes in brain connections as a result of learning and experience.

But in the new study, the transplanted brain cells created a new period of heightened plasticity that allowed for vigorous rewiring of the adult brain. In a sense, old brain processes became young again.

For the study, in an attempt to restore normal sight, the researchers transplanted GABA neurons into the visual cortex of adult mice afflicted with a sight-disorder.

"Several weeks after transplantation, when the donor animal's visual system would be going through its critical period, the amblyopic mice started to see with normal visual acuity," lead author of the study Melissa Davis pointed out.

The findings appeared online in the journal Neuron.

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