Philpot lab reverses plasticity defects in a mouse model of the mental retardation Angelman syndrome
5/10/2009 - Researchers in Ben Philpot’s lab have discovered in mice how a single disrupted gene can cause a form of severe mental retardation known as Angelman syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. In a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, they found that the gene, UBE3A, is needed so that neurons in the brain can adjust their connections with other neurons for storing sensory information. They also made the exciting discovery that this brain plasticity could be restored in Angelman model mice by sensory deprivation. This finding suggests that this latent ability to express plasticity in Angelman syndrome patients might be tapped into through future pharmaceutical or behavioral treatments to restore lost cognitive functions.