Much of our adult behavior reflects the neural circuits sculpted by experience in infancy and early childhood. At no other time in life does the surrounding environment so potently shape brain function – from basic motor skills, sensation or sleep to higher cognitive processes like language. How this plasticity waxes and wanes with age carries an impact far beyond neuroscience, including education policy, therapeutic approaches to developmental disorders or strategies for recovery from brain injury in adulthood.
Our laboratory, housed in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Center for Brain Science at Harvard University and F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, and part of the NIMH-funded Conte Center at Harvard, explores the mechanisms underlying critical periods of brain development. Research is aimed at the interface between cell biology and neuroscience – applying cellular/molecular techniques to elucidate complex neural systems.
A perineuronal nets image and explaining their role in learning, memory, plasticity, and more can be found in the October PNAS, Core Concepts article titled, ‘Perineuronal nets gain prominence for their role in learning, memory, and plasticity‘, written by Helen H. Shen.
Curious about people who speak dozens of languages and if brain plasticity is involved? Check out the September 2018 edition of The New Yorker where Professor Takao K. Hensch has some input. (Judith Thurman The New Yorker staff writer)
“Seizures may damage learning capacity of rodent brains”, by Jessica Wright in the July 2018 edition of Spectrumnews.org features and highlights the latest publication by Sun H, et al. Cell Rep. 23, 2533-2540 (2018)
Takao K. Hensch who spoke at the AAAS in Austin, Texas meeting, lends critical research thinking to The Guardian article, “Scientists seek drug to ‘rewire’ adult brain after stroke“ (Nicola Davis, Feb. 2018).
Takao K. Hensch awarded the 2016 Mortimer D. Sackler, M.D. Prize for Distinguished Achievement in Developmental Psychobiology. “How Early Life Experience Shapes Brain Function”
Columbia University Medical Center Press Release
Weill Cornell Press Release
“New Treatment for Rett Syndrome Targets Cerebrospinal Fluid“, by Nicholette Zeliadt, Nov. 15, 2016 SpectrumNews.org features Professor Hensch and his lab while at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in San Diego.
Scientific American features an article by Professor Hensch:
“THE POWER OF THE INFANT BRAIN”
An understanding of formative periods of intense learning during childhood suggests strategies for correcting neurological and psychiatric disorders later in life.
Header based on research image of Luke Bogart, Dawen Cai, Jeff Lichtman & Takao Hensch.