The pruning of brain connections characteristic of adolescence doesn't end with puberty after all – which could improve our understanding of schizophrenia
"As children, we overproduce the connections – synapses – between brain cells. During puberty the body carries out a kind of topiary, snipping away some synapses while allowing others to strengthen. Over a few years, the number of synapses roughly halves, and the adult brain emerges.
"Or so we thought. Pasko Rakic at Yale University and colleagues at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, have now found that the brains of adults in their 20s are still subject to synaptic pruning."
The finding also has implications for our understanding of some psychiatric disorders. The PFC is thought to be particularly relevant to late-onset disorders such as schizophrenia, says Rakic, but it is unclear whether such disorders are triggered by developmental or degenerative processes. The new finding is likely to give weight to the idea that schizophrenia emerges as a result of late brain development.
“I’m sure that for many people schizophrenia has a strong developmental component,” says Sabine Bahn, who researches schizophrenia at the University of Cambridge – although she adds that some cases will likely have a degenerative component."
Via iPamba, Miloš Bajčetić, Lynnette Van Dyke