All vertebrate brains, from fish to human, are formed of the same regions (forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain) but their relative size and complexity vary tremendously across evolution. The telencephalon and the cerebellum are the two areas showing the biggest variation, reaching the highest complexity and being the most common target in human neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. It is of crucial importance to understand how this complexity is reached during development and what the genetic driving elements are that ensure the formation of a normal complex brain such as ours. Corinne and her lab have very recently found that changes in the timing of signalling activity inside the anterior neural plate modify the size and complexity of the developing telencephalon.
The BBSRC research programme proposes to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling timing of signalling events and understand the complexity-generating progression triggered by temporal shifts in signalling. As the events controlling brain size and complexity are prime targets for disorders, identifying these events will lead to a new understanding of disorder mechanisms and to new candidate disorder-causing genes.