Brain development and plasticity

The study of the brain is known as neuroscience, a field of biology aimed at understanding the functions of the brain at every level, from the molecular up to the psychological, and how it develops and changes across the life span. There is also a branch of psychology that deals with the anatomy and physiology of the brain, known as biological psychology. This field of study focuses on each individual part of the brain and how it assesses different parts of the body. Plasticity refers to how circuits in the brain change--organize and reorganize--in response to experience, or sensory stimulation. Periods of rapid change or plasticity occur in the brain under four main conditions: when the immature brain first begins to process sensory information (developmental plasticity); second, when changes in the body, like a problem with eyesight, alter the balance of sensory activity received by the brain (activity-dependent plasticity); third, when we alter our behavior based on new sensory information (plasticity of learning and memory), and fourth, following damage to the brain (injury-induced plasticity). Scientists believe that the same brain mechanisms underlie all four types of plasticity: adjustments in the strength of connections, or synapses, between brain cells. The details of the molecular control of synaptic modification is an extraordinarily active field of research. Understanding the mechanisms of brain plasticity is essential to developing interventions to overcome brain damage.

News items related to the topic: Brain development and plasticity

Clinical & Translational Research Lecture: "Team Science in the Study of Pregnancy-Related Infections"
Clinical & Translational Research Lecture: "Team Science in the Study of Pregnancy-Related Infections"

Clinical & Translational Research Lecture: "Multisensory Function and Associated Brain Networks: Theory, Development and Autism"
Clinical & Translational Research Lecture: "Multisensory Function and Associated Brain Networks: Theory, Development and Autism"

VKC Special Lecture: "Brain Injury in Premature Birth and Developmental Delay"
VKC Special Lecture: "Brain Injury in Premature Birth and Developmental Delay"

Study further links immune response, serotonin signaling
Vanderbilt University scientists are a step closer to understanding how inflammation in the body can affect mood and behavior.

Study tracks brain’s trigger for overeating high-fat food
Disruptions in a specific signaling pathway in the brain can cause overeating of high-fat food, researchers at Vanderbilt University have found. Basic research on obesity is relevant to the VKC mission because children and adults with developmental disabilities have high rates of obesity.

Musicians not only hear in tune, they also see in tune
New News Item

New insight into how the brain makes memories
Every time you make a memory, somewhere in your brain a tiny filament reaches out from one neuron and forms an electrochemical connection to a neighboring neuron. VKC investigator Donna Webb heads a team of biologists who study how these connections are formed at the molecular and cellular level.

Darting mice may hold clues to ADHD, autism, and bipolar disorder
A darting mouse may hold an important clue in the development of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism and bipolar disorder, according to a study by a Vanderbilt University-led research team published in October 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“White matter” behaves differently in children with dyslexia
Transinstitutional neuroimaging research at Vanderbilt University finds that the brain may be structured differently in children with dyslexia, a reading disorder that affects up to 17 percent of the population.

Grants related to the topic: Brain development and plasticity

  • Genetic Analysis of Synapse Formation and Function
    PI: Broadie, Kendal
  • Neural Networks for Attention to Internal and External Sensory Cues in ASD
    PI: Cascio, Carissa
  • SHH Signaling in Cerebellar Function and Disease
    PI: Chiang, Chin
  • Regulation of SHH Signaling by Cellular Energetics
    PI: Chiang, Chin
  • CaMKII; Endocannabinoids; Synaptic Plasticity and Motor Function
    PI: Colbran, Roger
  • Regulation of Signaling by mGluR5
    PI: Conn, Jeffrey
  • Functions of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Subtypes
    PI: Conn, Jeffrey
  • Cognitive and Neural Processes in Reading Comprehension
    PI: Cutting, Laurie
  • Neurobiology and Treatment of Reading Disability In NF1
    PI: Cutting, Laurie
  • Dopaminergic Regulation of Pyramidal Cells
    PI: Deutch, Ariel
  • Regulation of Neurogenesis in TSC by mTORC1 and mTORC 2
    PI: Ess, Kevin
  • Regulation and Significance of Sustained Circadian Oscillations
    PI: Johnson, Carl
  • NOVEL LUMINESCENCE REPORTERS OF NEURAL ACTIVITY PARTNERED WITH OPTOGENETICS
    PI: Johnson, Carl
  • FUNCTIONAL ORGANIZATION OF THE VISUAL SYSTEM
    PI: Kaas, Jon
  • STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL DIVISIONS OF THE PRIMATE PULVINAR
    PI: Kaas, Jon
  • FUNCTIONAL ORGANIZATION OF THE SOMATOSENSORY SYSTEM
    PI: Kaas, Jon
  • Photoperiodic Programming of Serotonin Neurons
    PI: McMahon, Douglas
  • Exploring Synaptic Remodeling With Graphene Optoelectronic Probes
    PI: McMahon, Douglas
  • Molecular Regulation of Dendrite Morphogenesis
    PI: Miller, David
  • Molecular Genetics of Synaptic Plasticity
    PI: Miller, David
  • The Impact Of Innate Immune Recognition Of Staphylococcus Aureus On Bone Homeostasis And Skeletal Immunity
    PI: Niswender, Colleen
  • SLOS and Neuronal Oxidative Stress
    PI: Porter, Ned
  • SACCADE TARGET SELECTION FRONTAL CORTEX
    PI: Schall, Jeffrey
  • Neural Control of Voluntary Movement
    PI: Schall, Jeffrey
  • BIOCHEMICAL MECHANISMS OF NEURAL PLASTICITY
    PI: Sweatt, David
  • MOLECULAR AND BEHAVIORAL NEUROBIOLOGY OF TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR TCF4
    PI: Sweatt, David
  • MOLECULAR NEUROPHARMACOLOGY AND SIGNALING OF HISTONE H2A.Z
    PI: Sweatt, David
  • SEX DEPENDENT RECRUITMENT OF PKCDELTA NEURONS BY STRESS: ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPLEMENT FOR NORADRENERGIC REGULATION IN THE BNST
    PI: Winder, Danny
  • NORADRENERGIC REGULATION IN THE BNST
    PI: Winder, Danny
  • O BROTHER; WHERE ART THOU - INTERROGATING GLUTAMATE CO-TRANSMISSION IN DOPAMINERGIC NEURONS AT SINGLE-VESICLE LEVEL USING CELL REPROGRAMING AND CRISPR
    PI: Zhang, Qi

People related to the topic: Brain development and plasticity

Adam Anderson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology & Radiological Sciences

Malcolm Avison, Ph.D.
Professor of Radiology & Radiological Sciences, Neurology, and Pharmacology

Aaron Bowman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry, and Neurology

Kendal Broadie, Ph.D.
Stevenson Professor of Neurobiology; Professor of Biological Sciences; Professor of Pharmacology; Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

Stephen Bruehl, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology

Ana Marin Dias Carneiro, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pharmacology

Bruce Carter, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry

Chin Chiang, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

Roger Colbran, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D.
Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology; Director, Vanderbilt Program in Drug Discovery

Michael K. Cooper, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology

Ronald Cowan, Ph.D., M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Psychology, and Radiology & Radiological Sciences; Director, Psychiatric Neuroimaging Program; Scientific Director, Vanderbilt Addiction Center

Eric Delpire, Ph.D.
Professor of Anesthesiology; Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Ariel Deutch, Ph.D.
James G. Blakemore Chair and Professor of Psychiatry; Professor of Pharmacology; Director, National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence; Neurochemistry Faculty Service Coordinator, IDDRC Neuroscience Core D

Ford Ebner, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Cell & Developmental Biology

Ronald Emeson, Ph.D.
Joel G. Hardman Professor of Pharmacology; Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Director, IDDRC Neuroscience Core D; Chair, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee; Director, Office of Animal Welfare Assurance; Interim Director, Vanderbilt Brain Institute

Kevin Ess, M.D., Ph.D.
Gerald M. Fenichel Chair in Neurology; Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Cell & Developmental Biology, and Neurology; Director, Division of Pediatric Neurology

Daniel Foster, Ph.D.
Research Instructor in Pharmacology

Aurelio Galli, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Associate Director for Research Strategy, Vanderbilt Brain Institute

John Gore, Ph.D.
Hertha Ramsey Cress Chair in Medicine; Chancellor's University Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering; Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics; Professor of Physics; Director, Institute of Imaging Science

Brad Grueter, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Kevin Haas, Ph.D., M.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology

Troy Hackett, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences

Fiona Harrison, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism; Associate Director, IDDRC Neuroscience Core D; Mouse Behavioral Phenotyping Facility Faculty Coordinator, IDDRC Neuroscience Core D

Stephan Heckers, M.D.
William P. and Henry B. Test Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Chair of the Department

Peter Hedera, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology

Ciria Hernandez, M.D., Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology

Carl H Johnson, Ph.D.
Stevenson Chair and Professor of Biological Sciences; Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Jon Kaas, Ph.D.
Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair and Distinguished Centennial Professor of Psychology; Professor of Radiology& Radiological Sciences

Jing-Qiong Kang, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology

Ela Knapik, M.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine; Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

Christine Konradi, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Andre H. Lagrange, Ph.D., M.D.
Associate Professor of Neurology

Andrew Link, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Peter Martin, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Pharmacology; Director, Vanderbilt Addiction Center

Robert Matthews, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics; Advanced Microscopy Core Manager, Basic Neuroscience Services Core

BethAnn McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology; Assistant Professor of Pharmacology

Douglas McMahon, Ph.D.
Stevenson Chair and Professor of Biological Sciences; Professor of Pharmacology

David M. Miller III, Ph.D.
Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology & Biological Sciences

Victoria Morgan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Radiology & Radiological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering

M. Diana Neely, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Sachin Patel, M.D., Ph.D.
James G. Blakemore Chair and Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Associate Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Pharmacology; Director, Division of Addiction Psychiatry

Aurea Pimenta, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacology

Elaine Sanders-Bush, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology, Professor of Psychiatry, Emerita

Jeffrey D. Schall, Ph.D.
E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Neuroscience; Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; Director, Center for Integrative Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience; Director, Vanderbilt Vision Research Center; Scientific Instrumentation Faculty Service Coordinator, IDDRC Neuroscience Core D

Michelle Southard-Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine; Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

David Sweatt, Ph.D.
Allan D. Bass Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology; Professor of Psychology and Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

Mark Wallace, Ph.D.
Louise B. McGavock Endowed Chair; Professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and Psychology; Dean, Vanderbilt University Graduate School

Danny Winder, Ph.D.
Bixler-Johnson-Mayes Chair, Basic Sciences – School of Medicine; Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Tiffany Woynaroski, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Assistant Professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences

David Zald, Ph.D.
Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Qi Zhang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pharmacology

Back to the topic index