Michael Fox and team discover how retinal neurons claim best brain connections

Michael Fox, Ph.D.

Michael Fox, Ph.D.

Real estate agents emphasize location, location, and – once more for good measure – location. It’s the same in a developing brain, where billions of neurons vie for premium property to make connections. Neurons that stake out early claims often land the best value, even if they don’t develop the property until later.

Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and the University of Louisville have discovered that during neurodevelopment, neurons from the brain’s cerebral cortex extend axons to the edge of the part of the brain dedicated to processing visual signals – but then stop. Instead of immediately making connections, the cortical neurons wait for two weeks while neurons from the retina connect to the brain.

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