Studies have revealed that the genes that may cause Autism as well as Schizophrenia are found to be active only for a brief period of time. These researches were conducted on mice. It appears that the findings may lead to more clues as to how these disorders are caused. Those who conducted these researches focused on Subplate. Subplate is one of the brain's regions where development of the first nerve cells occurs.
These studies were conducted at the King's College of the University of Oxford and also at the Imperial College of London. Researchers found that the genes that caused autism and schizophrenia were active only for a brief period when the brain development was in the early stages in that particular region called the Subplate region.
In fact, the brain neurons that are formed in this region are responsible for the number of neural connections that may start crisscrossing the brain. These researchers are of the opinion that if they do further studies and find out how nerves develop and become a part of this network, they can be led to the problems in the growth that may cause afflictions like autism or schizophrenia. They tend to believe that the early disruptions to the foundation of the nerve structure may be the cause that triggers these flaws. According to them, it is the Subplate neurons that help in development of cerebral cortex and extra connectivity and if there are problems with them, it may lead to problems like autism, etc.
They began their study when the embryos of the mice were only 15 days old. They continued the research till the mice grew up. They found that these problems in their brains started very early when the first brain connections were formed. The genes that caused these disorders were active when the Subplate neurons formed and not later. This means that the foundation of these disorders is laid at an early stage when the brain neurons form after which the disease process continues.
Of course, it is too early to say that these findings may help in identifying and modifying the problems when the child is still in the womb of the mother. But, the fact is that this study has provided a new line of thinking that may ultimately provide the right solutions for treating problems like autism and schizophrenia.