Show/hide main menu


News Highlights

New insights into how the developing brain is wired

Posted on 29/01/2019

Favuzzi et al., Science 2019_v2 430x275

Research from the Centre for Neurodevelopmental Biology gives an insight into how brain circuitry develops, shedding light on what may happen in neurodevelopmental disorders when the brain’s wiring goes wrong.  The results, published in the prestigious journal Science by Professor Beatriz Rico and colleaguessignificantly contribute to our understanding of how neural circuits form during development.

The cerebral cortex is the largest region of the human brain and is responsible for many of our advanced abilities. The cerebral cortex contains two main types of cells: excitatory and inhibitory neurons. The development of brain functioning depends upon the construction and organisation of neuronal connections between these two kinds of brain cells.  

Inhibitory cells – called interneurons – come in different types, and the different types of interneurons connect with different parts of the excitatory cells – called pyramidal cells. Until now very little was known about how different interneurons connect with pyramidal cells. 

The work research by Emilia FazuzziDr Ruben Deogracias and Professor Rico sheds light on the processes controlling how interneurons and pyramidal cells connect, identifying three genes responsible for the development of different kinds of connections between cells. Because these genes are also active in adult brains, the researchers say it is possible they also may have a role in brain plasticity, as well as development. 

“In daily life, animal behaviours rely on the very precise connectivity among different neurons in the brain, reaching an exceptional level of complexity in the mammalian cerebral cortex,” says Professor Rico. 

“In this new work we identified a repertoire of cell-specific molecular codes that emerge during development in cortical interneurons to provide the exquisite precision of inhibitory circuits. Unravelling this code is critical not only to understanding the diversity of neural circuitries, but also to design future strategies for targeting neurodevelopmental disorders linked to interneuron deficits such as autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy.” 

This research was supported by grants from the European Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.


Paper reference

Distinct molecular programs regulate synapse specificity in cortical inhibitory circuits’ Favuzzi et alScience, DOI: 10.1126/science.aau8977


For further media information please contact: Robin Bisson, Senior Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, / +44 20 7848 5377 / +44 7718 697176.

News Highlights:

News Highlights...RSS FeedAtom Feed

Paul Stokes appointed to government drugs advisory panel

Paul Stokes appointed to government drugs advisory panel

Dr Paul Stokes, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Mood Disorders at the IoPPN has been appointed as a new member of the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the body which makes recommendations to government on the control of dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs.
Mental health stigma greater in London and the south

Mental health stigma greater in London and the south

A study undertaken by researchers at the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre and King's College London suggests that people living in London and the south have more negative attitudes towards people with mental health problems than those living in other areas of England.
Misperceptions about vaping common among UK smokers

Misperceptions about vaping common among UK smokers

Research from King's College London finds smokers and ex-smokers in the UK overestimate the harm from vaping, with fewer than 6 out of 10 accurately believing that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.
Press Release
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454