Until now, scientists interpreted a gene called SYNGAP1 as as only capable of affecting synapses between mature neurons. However, a new study from the Quadrato Lab at USC Stem Cell reveals that certain variations of the gene can disrupt early development in the brain’s cortex.

This outermost layer of the brain plays a key role in memory, thinking, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, emotions, consciousness and functions related to the senses — many of which are affected by autism spectrum disorder.

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