PerspectiveDevelopmental

Neuroscience Neurotransmitter-tailored dendritic trees

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Science  30 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6260, pp. 510-511
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad4876

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Summary

GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mature brain but functions as an excitatory transmitter in the developing nervous system (1, 2). GABA has also been identified as a trophic factor stimulating growth of the embryonic nervous system (3, 4). On page 554 of this issue, Chen and Kriegstein (5) forge a link between neuronal excitation by GABA, calcium signaling, and the morphogenesis of specific neocortical neurons in the growing brain, setting a new standard for analysis of activity-dependent neuronal circuit assembly. The changes in dendritic trees that they report are consistent with those observed in schizophrenia and autism (6, 7).