Single Gene Mutation in Early Brain Development Can Cause a Lifetime of Problems

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humanbrainCell Biologists at the Scripps Research Institute have released a study showing that the loss of a solitary gene during very early childhood mental development can (and often does) cause a lifetime of educational, intellectual and behavioral disturbances.

The early development of neural circuits in the cortex are responsible for a certain number of a child’s brain functions, including decision making and sensory perception. Normal and steady development of these neural connections are what
lead to proper development in young children. Cell biology teaches us that it’s this cortex maturity that shapes brain development like cognitive, language and perception abilities.

According to the Scripps study, the interruption of a single gene – the synapse regulator known as SYNGAP1 – within the first few years of life can lead to a lifetime of intellectual disabilities and behavioral problems. Mutations of SYNGAP1 also lead to a much higher risk of autism in humans. It’s as though these children’s brains were built incorrectly from the foundation up.

The goal for scientists now is to discover what causes these SYNGAP 1 mutations, and either discover a way to prevent it or stop any damage from occurring after these alterations. During the first two years of a child’s life, the brain is expanding and developing so quickly that intervening as early as possible is the best way to prevent damage from the mutation taking hold.

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