Washington: University of Basel scientists have identified a protein that plays a major role in forming the right kind of connections in the rapidly growing brain of newborn mammals.The protein was found to help neuronal cells in the brain repair errors when they had connected to the wrong type of cell and it may shed light on why some young children go on to develop disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, said the researchers.Peter Scheiffele and team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have been able to document this phenomenon using advanced microscopy techniques in the developing cerebellum, a brain area required for fine movement control.They discovered that a protein traditionally associated with bone development is responsible for correcting errors while neurons connect to their correct partners in the cerebellum.In the study, Scheiffele``s group demonstrated that these mossy fiber inputs often connect with Purkinje neurons during early brain development, in addition to granule cells. These incorrect Purkinje connections are then subsequently eliminated within a week, establishing proper specificity in the cerebellum.
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