Understand and describe how the central nervous system (CNS) develops, matures, and maintains itself. In the 70s Albert Aguayo's work gave a great boost to the field when he showed that a cut optic nerve would not only growth through a length of peripheral nerve graft but also make connections that relayed visual signals (Vidal-Sanz et al., 1987). Although the idea of a critical period for these effects is still central to our thinking of developmental plasticity, another set of findings upended our concepts on the role of neural activity. At the time, deductions regarding the site of gene action were not always on the mark. Four Decades of Neurodegenerative Disease Research: How Far We Have Come! And we now readily accept that the worm is like a human: a conserved regulatory logic of transcription factor expression applies to dopamine neuron terminal differentiation in both species (Flames and Hobert, 2009). This and many other studies suggested four categories of axon growth: contact mediated or diffusible cues, evoking positive or negative effects. Learn developmental neuroscience with free interactive flashcards. In the 80s, the insect limb provided a graphic stage for viewing how the very first axons grow: sensory neurons contact a series of other cells, the guidepost neurons, and perceive information about where not to grow and where to extend toward the CNS (Caudy and Bentley, 1986). In one of the Society's first short courses, “New approaches in Developmental Neurobiology” in 1981, four of the 11 lectures were devoted to the production of monoclonal antibodies. Although many of these antibodies are still in use, the refinement of polyclonal antibodies, which are made purer by immunoabsorption, are now in as much use as monoclonals. The ideas and opinions expressed in JNeurosci do not necessarily reflect those of SfN or the JNeurosci Editorial Board. According to the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) the three main objectives of neuroscience are to 1. Now CAMs are back in the limelight and we are delighted to see that the same IgCAM is expressed in subsets of synaptically linked cells across retinal layers indicating a system of biases and matching labels (Yamagata and Sanes, 2008), but not via the myriad of molecules that Sperry's initial thinking intimated. Not surprisingly, axon and synapse elimination seems to rely on mechanisms used in cellular degradation processes (Luo and O'Leary, 2005; Song et al., 2008). How is this accomplished? These inhibitory interactions thus enable retinal axons to topographically map onto the tectum, and now we know, other brain regions (Feldheim et al., 1998). After a mutant line is developed, downstream signaling pathways can be probed, from the membrane to the actin cytoskeleton to the nucleus, to study transcriptional effects. Forty years ago in the emerging field of developmental neurobiology, neuroanatomists studied cellular development in their favorite brain region by annotating static Golgi preparations at different time points. But in the late 80s and early 90s, genetic analysis of humans with brain malformations and their families led to identification of mutated genes. Developmental Neuroscience It describes the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which complex nervous systems emerge during embryonic development and throughout life. The field continues to explore the action of these four guidance factor families, along with Ig-CAMs and extracellular matrix molecules such as laminin, the “original” molecular systems implicated in the simplest form of growth, axo-axonal and axo-basal lamina adhesion in developing systems of many species. Neuroscientists use cellular and molecular biology, anatomy … Harrison (1910) developed tissue culture techniques, and Spiedel (1933) witnessed living growing neurites through the thin skin of a tadpole. In 1969, the molecular factors control neuronal fate were unknown, but the work of Melton and Hemmati-Brivanlou (1997) gave a molecular language to Spemann's findings on the organizer and induction of neural identity. Among the surprising findings on developmental plasticity in recent years is that inhibition plays a role during the critical period as circuits are set and become increasingly difficult to modify by alteration of sensory input. But how much closer have we come to appreciating how growing axons and dendrites form synapses and create functional circuits, or how the neural tube and its emerging sectors are patterned into recognizable brain regions? We can use the new ways of tracing and observing dynamics to study cell behavior in the neurons' natural habitat, with and without perturbations. To this day, there is argument over whether the prize in this competition is retrogradely supplied neurotrophins, such that the more active the terminal is, the more trophic substances come back to it. Most compelling was the finding that growth factor receptors, such as p75, can act either in survival or death pathways (Haase et al., 2008). In the mid-90s, another shift in our view took place: unique combinations of transcription factors are expressed in different cell classes over the course of development. Bonhoeffer hypothesized that there might be factors arrayed in a gradient on the tectal surface, and devised clever and precise culture assays—microstripes stripes of membranes from different poles of the targets—to test this hypothesis. 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