May 22, 2008
Comparative Studies of Cortical Development to Link Developmental Neuroscience and Behavior
NAMHC Concept Clearance
Susan Koester, Ph.D.
Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science
This initiative will support studies that link behavioral and cortical neurodevelopmental processes across species.
Currently, very few postnatal developmental studies link neurobiology and behavior in humans and other mammalian systems—a gap identified by the NAMHC Workgroup on Neurodevelopment. We propose to support studies that will examine cortical developmental processes across three axes: time, species, and discipline. These projects would be comparative integrative neuroscience studies in humans and other mammals, including non-human primates, rodents, and other tractable species, to link cortical development with cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral measures from birth through puberty. Physiological measures could include molecular or cellular signaling or excitability; circuit connectivity and activation; anatomical or molecular differentiation (including regressive events) of neurons and/or glia; synaptogenesis; or development of white matter tracts. Relevant behavioral measures include but are not limited to, memory, aversive/appetitive learning, impulsivity, and social cognition. The initiative would strongly encourage studies that assess functional consequences of anatomical developments in human cerebral cortex, including the normal ontogeny of cellular events, cellular growth and differentiation, cellular migration, and cellular metabolism. These studies will provide anchors for linking functional neurodevelopment of cortical regions across species, including humans, and will identify model systems most amenable to mechanistic studies aimed at determining when and how these developmental trajectories are changed in mental disorders.