Some of the molecules critical for building neuronal contacts have
been shown to be affected in psychiatric disorders such as autism
and mental retardation. Also, a reduction in synapse number in
specific brain regions has been found in patients with brain
disorders. Thus, imbalance in synaptic contact formation may result
in the formation of abnormal neuronal circuits and the aberrant
behavior manifested in these brain diseases. Recent findings also
suggest that fine tuning of neuronal circuits rather than a major
loss of neurons may be the cause of some of these brain disorders.
In certain cases, loss of neurons could be a secondary event
reflecting problems in improper neuronal communication.
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