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Discovery May Shed Light on Autism Brain Activity

By Catherine Croft Swanwick, Ph.D. on August 17, 2012


Overview: Scientists recently discovered the mathematical formula underlying two types of inhibitory brain circuits.


Background:  One theory of autism predicts that its symptoms are caused by an unbalanced ratio of excitation to inhibition in the brain.  Autistic brains may exhibit more excitability, possibly due to increased neuron excitation and/or decreased neuron inhibition.


What’s New:  Inhibitory neurons which express parvalbumin divide excitation of their target neurons, whereas those which express somatostatin subtract excitation of their targets.


Why it’s Important:  Researchers may now measure the effects of these inhibitory circuits on excitability levels of autistic brains.


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