Study hints at how early life experiences may affect brain wiring

Hiroki Taniguchi, PhD, associate professor of Pathology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, studies brain development in mice shortly after birth to gain insights into neurological diseases.

His recent study, published in Science Advances, may provide insights into how early life events can affect wiring patterns in the brain that manifest as disease later in life – specifically such disorders as schizophrenia, epilepsy and autism.

The study is the first of its kind to show that two types of brain cells that have been linked to adult neurological disorders, neurons in a modulating system nestled deep in the brain and other neurons in the cortex, counteract excitation in other cells using inhibitory effects. The modulating cells send long-range cables to the cortex to remotely influence cortical cell activity.

“It’s known that abnormal early-life experiences can impact kids’ future sensation and behavior,” Dr. Taniguchi says. “This finding may help explain that kind of mechanism.”

Dr. Taniguchi furthers that this new insight into brain development and pathology signals the possibility that during development, depending on experiences, the activity of an animal’s modulating system can be changed and, accordingly, the cortical circuit wiring can be changed.

Read more about how this study opens the door to a better understanding of how neurological diseases in adults may relate to early-life events (external link).