Neurodevelopment

The Search
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Rett syndrome

The human connection

A young girl with Rett syndrome connects local family with The Jackson Laboratory's autism research.

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Quick, how many brain cells do you have? And how many connections—what are known as synapses—do they make with other cells?

Nobody knows the answers. Our brains, ironically, are far too intricate for our brains to fully understand.* So it’s not surprising that the remarkable construction process resulting in a fully developed brain sometimes involves problems.

Research into neurodevelopment and related diseases takes us into some of the deepest mysteries of the brain. How are the synapses set up? How is sensory input processed? What goes wrong that can create an electrical “storm” in the brain (epilepsy) or change how the outside world is perceived (autism)?

Research at The Jackson Laboratory seeks to discover the differences in brain function, often very subtle, that underlie these and other important disorders.

*There are many guesses, however. Brain cell estimates are usually in the range of 100 billion, give or take a few tens of billions. As for estimating the number of synapses, we need scientific notation: 1013 to 1015 synapses.

The Jackson Laboratory main site
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