Dr Laura Fenlon

Research Field: Neuroscience

The corpus callosum is the largest fibre tract in the brain, connecting the two
cerebral hemispheres and allowing them to communicate. 1:4000 people are born
with an absence or malformation of this structure, and it is known to be altered in
myriad neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia.

Dr Fenlon’s research focuses on better understanding the development of callosal
connections, including the genetic and environmental factors affecting precise
circuit formation.

Her recent research focused on developmental plasticity of axonal connections in
animal models of callosal absence, which has great potential to better understand
differences in cognitive outcomes in people with callosal absence and also to
reveal the mechanisms of axonal plasticity and potential ways these can be
manipulated in disorders of cortical connectivity.

These studies are complemented by more basic research into the evolution of brain connections in mammals,
using marsupials that naturally lack the corpus callosum, to better understand the
natural history of the human brain, including how ancient evolutionary features can
reappear in some cases of cortical wiring defects.