July 31, 2014

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have evidence suggesting that neurons in the developing brains of mice are guided by a simple but elegant birth order rule that allows them to find and form their proper connections.

The question for biologists has been how do these neurons decide which other neurons to connect to, a process neuroscientists call target selection.

The answer has both fundamental scientific value and clinical relevance. Some researchers believe that autism and other disorders linked to brain development may be caused, in part, by a failure of neurons to properly reposition their axons as needed when mistakes in target selection occur.