For the first time, scientists have pinned down a molecular process in the brain that helps to trigger schizophrenia. The researchers involved in the landmark study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Nature, say the discovery of this new genetic pathway probably reveals what goes wrong neurologically in a young person diagnosed with the devastating disorder
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form new connections—as well as eliminate old ones—throughout life. In previous generations, people often believed that the neural connections of the brain were fixed by a certain age. We now know that the brain continues to develop and rewire itself throughout life and that experience can change the brain’s structure and functioning.
Pruning starts near the time of birth & is completed at end of adolescents. At birth, the brain consists of ~86 billion neurons. The infant brain will grow 5x in size by adulthood. 2 factors contribute to this: the growth of synaptic connections between neurons, & the myelination of nerve fibers. A decrease in synapses is seen after adolescence (synaptic pruning), & ~50% do not survive until adulthood. Pruning is influenced by environmental factors and is widely thought to represent…
If a teen is doing music, sports or academics, those are the connections that will be hard wired. If they¼re lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going to survive.