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News Nov 02, 2020
| Original story from the University of Geneva

Neuronal fibers in a healthy brain (top) and a brain with agenesis of the corpus callosum (bottom). In the healthy brain, the two hemispheres are connected by the corpus callosum fibers, shown in red. These fibers are absent in the brain with corpus callosum agenesis. Credit: Unige / Siffredi

One in 4,000 people is born without a corpus callosum, a brain structure consisting of neural fibres that are used to transfer information from one hemisphere to the other. A quarter of these individuals do not have any symptoms, while the remainder either have low intelligence quotients or suffer from severe cognitive disorders. In a study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, neuroscientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) discovered that when the neuronal fibres that act as a bridge between the hemispheres are missing, the brain reorganises itself and creates an impressive number of connections inside each hemisphere. These create more intra-hemispheric connections than in a healthy brain, indicating that plasticity mechanisms are involved. It is thought that these mechanisms enable the brain to compensate for the losses by recreating connections to other brain regions using alternative neural pathways.The corpus callosum develops in utero between the tenth and twentieth week of gestation. Agenesis of the corpus callosum is a congenital brain malformation in which this brain structure fails to develop, resulting in one out of 4,000 babies born without a corpus callosum. When it is missing, nothing replaces this structure measuring about ten centimetres, with the exception of cerebrospinal fluid. This means that the information transmitted from one hemisphere to the other can no longer be conveyed by the neuronal projections from the corpus callosum. “Their role in a healthy brain,» begins Vanessa Siffredi, a researcher in UNIGE’s Faculty of Medicine, «is to ensure the functioning of various cognitive and sensorimotor functions”. Surprisingly, 25% of people with this malformation have no visible signs; 50% have average intelligence quotients and learning difficulties; and the remaining 25% suffer from severe cognitive disorders.

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Researchers Identify the Brain Circuits Controlling Attention

The attentional control that organisms need to succeed in their goals comes from two abilities: the focus to ignore distractions and the discipline to curb impulses. A new study shows that these abilities are independent, but that the activity of norepinephrine-producing neurons in a single brain region, the locus coeruleus, controls both by targeting two distinct areas of the prefrontal cortex.

Study Finds Vitamin D Levels in Pregnancy Associated With Neurocognitive Development

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that mothers’ vitamin D levels during pregnancy were associated with their children’s IQ, suggesting that higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy may lead to greater childhood IQ scores. The study also identified significantly lower levels of vitamin D levels among Black pregnant women.

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Source: https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/news/hemisphere-bridge-malformation-shows-the-brains-incredible-plasticity-342251

Neuroscience, Cerebral hemisphere, Human brain, Agenesis of the corpus callosum, Neuroplasticity, Neuron

World news – GB – Hemisphere “Bridge” Malformation Shows the Brain’s Incredible Plasticity

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