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Can the environment affect how the spinal cord develops specialized circuitry, or is that process hardwired, following prescribed genetic instructions turned on early in the embryo?
A UC Davis study that compared the effects of cold and warm temperatures on the development of frog eggs into larvae found that environmental temperature significantly changes how the nervous system develops.
Study - Online - May - Journal - Current
The study, which appears online May 23 in the journal Current Biology, found environmental temperature activated temperature-sensitive channels, influencing gene expression and altering neurodevelopment. The research, while conducted in frogs, has parallels across species, including humans.
"We found that the temperature-sensitive channel TRPM8 drives changes in the developing nervous system, allowing frogs to adapt to the environment," said Laura Borodinsky, professor of physiology and membrane biology at UC Davis School of Medicine and study senior author.
Larvae - Grown - Temperatures - Neurons - Function
"Larvae grown in cold temperatures had more neurons responsible for movement—a crucial function that better equips young frogs to escape predators and other potential dangers," she said. "They also had larger muscle mass and a stronger swim response than those reared in warmer temperatures when tested at cold temperatures."
Temperature is an important factor in the development of the nervous system in humans. Newborns, especially premature babies, do not develop the ability to regulate body temperature until a few months after birth or even longer. Studies also suggest that fever during pregnancy may affect the developing brain and nervous system, increasing the risk of autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.
Borodinsky - Temperature - Changes - Periods - Development—or
Borodinsky believes when temperature changes are sudden and occur during critical periods of development—or...
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