Autism Research lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.
Interneurons within the brain, in the cortex and hippocampus in particular, are central for normal brain function, and conversely, dysfunction of these cell types is thought to result in developmental neurological disorders. The Fishell laboratory combines genetic and physiological approaches to examine the origins of these populations and their integration into brain circuitry.
In this lecture, Gordon Fishell will describe his investigations of the developmental and genetic origins of interneuron development. This process begins with their specification, during which genetic programs initiated within progenitors relegate interneurons into specific cardinal classes. Subsequent to this, neuronal activity is fundamental for both the laminar positioning as well as the dendritic and axonal arborization in at least some interneuron subtypes. Fishell’s findings suggest that sensory information complements earlier established genetic programs to shape the way interneuronal subtypes integrate into nascent cortical circuits. Importantly, many of the genes involved in the maturation of interneurons appear to also be implicated in neuropsychiatric diseases, including autism and schizophrenia.