Brain development in neurodevelopmental disorders has been considered to comprise a sequence of critical periods, and abnormalities occurring during early development have been considered irreversible in adulthood. However, findings in mouse models of neurodevelopmental disorders, including fragile X, Rett syndrome, Down syndrome, and neurofibromatosis type I suggest that it is possible to reverse certain molecular, electrophysiological, and behavioral deficits associated with these disorders in adults by genetic or pharmacological manipulations. Furthermore, recent studies have suggested that critical period-like plasticity can be reactivated in the adult brain by environmental manipulations or by pharmacotherapy. These studies open up a tantalizing possibility that targeted pharmacological treatments in combination with regimes of training or rehabilitation might alleviate or reverse the symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders even after the end of critical developmental periods. Even though translation from animal experimentation to clinical practice is challenging, these results suggest a rational basis for treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders in adulthood.
ASJC Scopus subject areas