A Brain Connection May Shed Light on Neuropsychiatric Disorders

A Brain Connection May Shed Light on Neuropsychiatric Disorders

The brain’s two hemispheres are asymmetric in that each serves distinct neural functions. Importantly, recent studies have found that neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and autism spectrum disorders display defects in this brain laterality.

Hannes E. Buelow, Ph.D., and colleagues have discovered an asymmetric neuronal connection between two pairs of sensory neurons in the nematode C. elegans that changes in response to hormones and experience. Dr. Buelow has received a 5-year, $2.4 million National Institutes of Health grant to use C. elegans as a model system to investigate—on a molecular level and at single-cell resolution—the mechanisms by which experiences and insulin signaling change the hardwiring of a neural circuit and C. elegans behavior. Using genetic and behavioral studies and brain imaging, the researchers hope to gain insights into how asymmetry is perturbed in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Buelow is professor of genetics and in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience at Einstein. (1R01NS125134-01A1)