Master gene orchestrates regeneration of damaged peripheral nerves​

School of Medicine scientists have identified a master gene involved in orchestrating the regrowth of peripheral nerves — the nerves that extend from the spinal column to the hands and feet and have the ability to regenerate and help people regain some movement and sensation. Understanding how these nerves regenerate may aid efforts to regrow spinal cord neurons.

Scientists find new clues to brain’s wiring

New research provides an intriguing glimpse into the processes that establish connections between nerve cells in the brain. These connections, or synapses, allow nerve cells to transmit and process information involved in thinking and moving the body. Pictured is the study’s senior author, Azad Bonni, MD, PhD.

New clue to autism found inside brain cells

Researchers at the School of Medicine have learned that the problems people with autism have with memory formation, higher-level thinking and social interactions may be partially attributable to the activity of a receptor inside brain cells, highlighted with green in this image.

NIH award funds research into tiny devices that shine light on brain disorders

To better understand and one day provide improved treatments for depression, addiction and anxiety, School of Medicine researchers are using tiny, electronic devices to identify and map neural circuits in the brain. The work has been awarded a rare grant called EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration), which provides funding for high-risk/high-reward projects.

Fragile X makes brain cells talk too much

The most common inherited form of mental retardation and autism, fragile X syndrome, turns some brain cells into chatterboxes, scientists at the School of Medicine report. The extra chatter may make it harder for brain cells to identify and attend to important signals, potentially establishing a parallel at the cellular level to the attention problems seen in autism.

Out of sight

Researchers discovered activity in a part of the brain called the extrastriate body both when subjects viewed body parts and when they pointed to an object.Although we don’t often think about it, the brain is a very complicated place. Even the simple act of pointing at an object requires an intricate network of brain activity. Scientists traditionally thought this network included a one-way “information highway” between the brain’s visual system and its motor and sensory systems, but research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis now challenges that long-held theory. The study demonstrates that the brain’s visual system is responsible not only for seeing and perceiving objects outside the body, but also is involved when individuals sense and manipulate their own bodies.