Understanding how the brain is built
Every thought, behavior and feeling we have is a result of how the cells in our brain are wired. How the nearly 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections between them form during development is an extraordinary mystery and one of the greatest challenges in biology. For a brain to be healthy and functional, these billions of neurons must connect in precisely the right way so they can communicate properly. Many neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia originate during brain development and may be caused by errors in the wiring process. How do neurons recognize the correct neurons to connect to? The answers to this question could transform the way we understand and treat mental illness and other neurological conditions.
Larry Zipursky's research is illuminating how neurons connect up correctly: he has discovered different labels that control how connections between neurons form during brain development. As a result of his groundbreaking research, the rules by which neurons navigate the complex environment of a growing brain are being defined. Knowing how this process of brain wiring works may allow scientists to gain insights into neuropsychiatric disorders. Zipursky’s research is changing our understanding of how the brain is built.
- By Emily Rose, Senior Strategy Officer, UCLA Health Sciences Development