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Brain gene activity changes through life

Studies track biochemical patterns from just after conception to old age

By
10:22am, October 28, 2011

Human brains all work pretty much the same and use roughly the same genes in the same way to build and maintain the infrastructure that makes people who they are, two new studies show. And by charting the brain’s genetic activity from before birth to old age, the studies reveal that the brain continually remodels itself in predictable ways throughout life.

In addition to uncovering details of how the brain grows and ages, the results may help scientists better understand what goes awry in brain disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

“The complexity is mind-numbing,” says neuroscientist Stephen Ginsberg of the Nathan Kline Institute and New York University Langone Medical Center, who wasn’t involved in the studies. “It puts the brain in rarefied air.”

In the studies, published in the Oct. 27 Nature, researchers focused not on DNA — virtually every cell’s raw genetic material is identical —

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