Embryonic neurons transplanted into mice can induce a period of flexibility in a relatively rigid older brain, suggesting a possible mechanism to repair damaged brain circuits, according a study published this week in Science.
"It's terrific," said neuroscientist linkurl:Takao Hensch;http://golgi.harvard.edu/Faculty/faculty_profile.php?f=takao-hensch of Harvard University, who was not involved in the research. "This is a very nice demonstration that just transplanting those very cells that [influence brain development] initially can reintroduce a period of plasticity. The obvious therapeutic implications are very exciting." As a young brain matures, it goes through various periods of reorganization known as critical periods -- short bursts of neural plasticity. The development of the visual system, for example, involves a period of brain plasticity shortly after birth in which neurons are rewired to "match up the connections in the visual cortex so that...
from the embryonic brain
into the postnatal brain
Image: Derek Southwell