From early embryogenesis through old age, the brain is constantly growing, changing and reshaping itself in response to internal and environmental cues. Researchers studying neural development investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that allow for the anatomical and functional development of the central nervous system.
These studies may incorporate investigations of the development of the fine functional organization of brain regions, the development of synaptic connections between neurons, and the molecular factors that guide migration of neurons, glia and axons during the development process. An understanding of these vital developmental processes is important to understanding the growth and plasticity of the healthy brain, as well as the cognitive and sensorimotor disabilities associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Techniques used include:
- behavioural training and testing
- human genetics
- cell culture
- organotypic culture
- quantitative immunoassays
- in-vivo functional and structural imaging
- cellular neuroimaging
- confocal and multiphoton microscopy
- fluorescent and light microscopy
- gene arrays