How a Teen Gene Glitch
May Cause Behavioral Disorders

Adolescence is a time of major brain development. During that period, a process called “pruning” physically transforms the teenage brain into the young adult brain.

Highly organized, tightly controlled and greatly influenced by genes and environment, this process allows us to function as healthy young adults. If these controls malfunction, our brains can struggle to appropriately understand and interact with the world and may contribute toward depression, drug abuse and other behavioral health issues. Faulty control systems during adolescent brain development may be one reason that major psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder often begin during adolescence and young adulthood.

Researchers may have recently developed a better understanding of pruning by isolating the so-called “teen gene” thought to play a major role in the process, according to new report published by the journal Translational Psychiatry. The team discovered that dysfunction of the teen gene during brain development can have long-lasting behavioral health consequences.

Psychiatric Genetics May Shed Light on the Teen Gene

Genetics has become an exciting and fascinating focus for medical researchers. The field of psychiatric genetics focuses on understanding how and why psychiatric disorders begin, then using that knowledge to improve treatment options and develop treatments based on individual genetic profiles.

Researchers at The Zucker Hillside Hospital’s Early Treatment Program are particularly interested in unlocking the genetic mysteries of major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. As we continue to understand the complexities of genetics, we gain more insight into the magnificent workings of the brain and body. More importantly, we will exponentially increase our ability to identify and treat symptoms–and, we hope, prevent them from occurring in the first place.

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