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Research: When the Brain Gets Too Big

Research: When the Brain Gets Too Big

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Klosterneuburg researchers have discovered how overly large brains can develop. The genes stimulate growth visible to the naked eye. This does not lead to an increase in intelligence, but – on the contrary – to learning difficulties.

Some people with very large brains (microcephaly) who have learning difficulties have changes in a gene called ‘CHD8’. These mutations spoil the production of neurons, using human “brain organelles”, researchers at IST Austria discovered. They also cause increased brain development, they also cause increased brain development, and the organoids with the CHD8 changes were greater in lab tests than with the healthy gene, they report in Cell Reports.

A team led by Gaia Novarino of the Austrian Institute of Science and Technology (ISTA) in Klosterneuburg has grown “simple copies of brain tissue the size of a lentil” from human stem cells. Some members of the brain have mutations in the CHD8 gene, a gene also linked to autism spectrum disorders. “After a while, you could see with the naked eye that the mutant organelles were much larger than the others,” the researchers said in a statement.

IST Austria / R. Autumn

Researchers from Klosterneuburg examined ‘brain organoids’

Organelles infected with the variant CHD8 had a higher number of cells growing (proliferating). In addition, the production times of the different types of neurons (neurons) there were altered compared to the “healthy” mini-brains. “The mutant organelles began to produce inhibitory neurons much earlier than the control group. On the other hand, the so-called excitatory neurons were formed later,” they wrote.

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