AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 1, 2018


New Study Finds 'Amplifier' Helps Make Connections in the Fetal Brain

George Washington University researchers find a special amplifier helps neural connections in babies, stopping once they strengthen

Fetal brains use a special amplifier in order to transmit signals. Early neural connections are sparse, weak and unreliable. This unique amplification circuit boosts weak inputs to ensure accurate and powerful information transfer in the developing brain.

“Our question is, what is the brain of the fetus doing? We know it’s active, and we know it’s generating spontaneous activity, but we also know the circuits are very weak,” said Colonnese, professor of pharmacology and physiology and member of the Institute for Neuroscience at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Brain activity in a pre-term infant is large – 10 time larger than that of an adult. At the same time, circuits have just 10 percent of the connection of an adult. The question became how the activity gets through. That’s when we started looking for amplifiers and through our research, identified one of these amplifiers.” 

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