From the WUSTL Newsroom…
The most common inherited form of mental retardation and autism, fragile X syndrome, turns some brain cells into chatterboxes, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report.
The extra talk may make it harder for brain cells to identify and attend to important signals, potentially establishing an intriguing parallel at the cellular level to the attention problems seen in autism.
According to the researchers, understanding the effects of this altered signaling will be important to developing successful treatments for fragile X and autism.
“We don’t know precisely how information is encoded in the brain, but we presume that some signals are important and some are noise,” says senior author Vitaly Klyachko, PhD, assistant professor of cell biology and physiology. “Our theoretical model suggests that the changes we detected may make it much more difficult for brain cells to distinguish the important signals from the noise.”
The findings appear Feb. 20 in Neuron.