Researchers out of Case Western Reserve University have completed the first model to show the role that serotonin plays in the development of the brain. Serotonin has long been known to be an important neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, but now its neuromodulating roles in brain development have been solidified. It proves to be very important in regards to the structure and function of nerve cell circuits.

This is the first time that serotonin’s role within the neuronal network of an animal model have been explored. To date, most studies have ignored such a detailed approach. The team of researchers used high-density multi-electrode arrays in mice with serotonin deficiency to record neuronal activity. The study showed that serotonin is crucial for normal neuron functioning. It was also shown to be involved in many synapses and networks within the brain’s cortex. It clearly is needed for proper development of brain circuits.

Abnormalities in serotonin production and function have been linked to Autism Spectrum Disorder, Epilepsy, depression, and anxiety. In depth knowledge of this neurotransmitter and its influence on the brain is crucial when finding treatments for these conditions, as well as other serotonin-derived disorders. With these new findings researchers hope to have a better understanding of how the brain is wired and sensitized to changing serotonin levels.

Pavel Anatolyevich Puzerey, Nathan Xing Kodama, Roberto Fernandez Galan. Abnormal cell-intrinsic and network excitability in the neocortex of serotonin-deficient Pet-1 knock-out mice. Journal of Neurophysiology, 2015; jn.00996.2014 DOI: 10.1152/jn.00996.2014

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