Author: Joseph T. Coyle, MD, Chairman, Consolidation Department of Psychiatry, Eban S. Draper, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Recent clinical research is progressively identifying behavioral pathologies that are highly associated with specific types of developmental disorders. These insights are being supported by brain imaging studies and more limited post-mortem brain analysis. Preclinical research can provide models for understanding how specific epigenetic insults or genetic abnormalities produce selective disruptions in developing brain neuronal circuitry, leading to specific cognitive and behavioral abnormalities. The findings from two contrasting models - a selective deletion of cortical neuroblasts by fetal treatment with an alkylating agent and the trisomy 19 mouse model of own Syndrome - will be reviewed. The implications of recently developed targeted molecular genetic techniques - transgenetic and gene knock-out - for better understanding of the neurobiology of developmental disorders will then be discussed.