According to the study, this gene encodes a family of receptor protein tyrosine kinases. Said gene is expressed at a very specific inhibitory neuron specific population and, therefore, is related to the connections to be produced between them.

The cerebral cortex is the most complex region of the brain and is responsible for the ability of reasoning, language and social behavior. CSIC researcher at the Institute of Neuroscience (joint CSIC and the University Miguel Hernández) Beatriz Rico, co-director of research, says: "The proper functioning of these processes depends ultimately neuronal connections, known as synapses ".

Synaptic connections are of two types: inhibitory and excitatory. In this case, the gene associated with the disease is related to inhibitory synapse neurons and is "fundamental to these neurons receive and conduct their normal number of connections," CSIC researcher adds.

The experiments, conducted in mice in which the gene is silenced ErbB4, showed that its absence causes a disproportionate increase in activity and synchronization of excitatory neurons. For his part, CSIC researcher at the same center as Rico and research co Oscar Marin says that "such alteration very accurately reproduces some of the changes in brain activity that occur in patients with schizophrenia." These changes are, in turn, related to cognitive deficits that characterize the disease.

According to Marin, "it is necessary to better understand the causes of a disorder as complex as this in order to design rational therapeutic approaches, as it only may provide efficient drug if you really know what exactly what goes wrong in the brain of a patient with this disease. "

  • Isabel del Pino, Cristina García-Frigola, Nathalie Dehorter, Jorge R. Brotons-Mas, Efrén Álvarez-Salvado, María Martínez de Lagrán, Gabriele Ciceri, María Victoria Gabaldón, David Moratal, Mara Dierssen, Santiago Canals, Oscar Marín, and Beatriz Rico. Erbb4 Deletion from Fast-Spiking Interneurons Causes Schizophrenia-like Phenotypes. Neuron. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.07.010

Fotografía By LadyofHats (English original); Josell7 (Spanish translation) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons