Scripps Florida Scientists Discover Clues to Altered Brain Wiring in Autism
Autism is an agonizing puzzle, a complex mixture of genetic and environmental factors. One piece of this puzzle that has emerged in recent years is a biochemical cascade called the mTOR pathway that regulates growth in the developing brain. A mutation in one of the genes that control this pathway, PTEN (also known as phosphatase and tensin homolog), can cause a particular form of autism called macrocephaly/autism syndrome. Using an animal model of this syndrome, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered that mutations in PTEN affect the assembly of connections between two brain areas important for the processing of social cues: the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with complex cognitive processes such as moderating social behavior, and the amygdala, which plays a role in emotional processing. Click here to read more.
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