12:38am Tuesday 24 October 2017

Mathematical model unlocks key to brain wiring

The model, constructed by scientists at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) and School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Queensland (UQ), gives new insight into how changing chemical levels in nerve fibres can modify nerve wiring underpinning connections in the brain.

Professor Geoff Goodhill says that while scientists have long known that changing these chemical levels can change where nerve fibres grow, only now are they understanding why this is the case.

“Our mathematical model allows us to predict precisely how these chemical levels control the direction in which nerve fibres grow, during both neural development and regeneration after injury,” he said.

Correct brain wiring is fundamental for normal brain function.

Recent discoveries suggest that wiring problems may underpin a number of nervous system disorders including autism, dyslexia, Down syndrome, Tourette’s syndrome and Parkinson’s disease.

The new model, published in the prestigious cell journal Neuron demonstrates the important role mathematics can play in understanding how the brain develops, and perhaps ultimately preventing such disorders.

Media contact: Mikaeli Costello, Phone: +61 401 580 685, Email: mikaeli.costello@uq.edu.au

NOTES TO EDITORS

Calcium and cAMP Levels Interact to Determine Attraction versus Repulsion in Axon Guidance – Elizabeth M. Forbes, Andrew W. Thompson, Jiajia Yuan, and Geoffrey J. Goodhill.

Queensland Brain Institute
The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) was established as a research institute of The University of Queensland in 2003. The Institute now operates out of a $63 million state-of-the-art facility and houses 33 principal investigators with strong international reputations. QBI is one of the largest neuroscience institutes in the world dedicated to understanding the mechanisms underlying brain function.

UQ School of Mathematics and Physics
Today, Mathematics and Statistics combine insights from mathematical theory with modelling and computational skills and the latest computer technology to solve problems in the physical and biological sciences, engineering, information technology, economics and finance. Part of the Faculty of Science at The University of Queensland, the School of Mathematics and Physics maintains a strong international reputation for cutting-edge research and innovative teaching, and is committed to providing students with the highest quality teaching and learning standards through dedicated and award-winning lecturers, as well as through access to the latest research and world-class resources. For more information, visit www.smp.uq.edu.au.


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