The Hevner lab studies neurodevelopmental processes related to autism, intellectual disabilities, and learning. They are particularly interested in the genetic regulation of neurogenesis in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, hippocampus and adult subventricular zone. Their research focuses on transcription factors Tbr1 and Tbr2 (also known as Eomes). These transcription factors control neuronal differentiation, axon growth and guidance, and cerebral cortex patterning, or division of the cortex into functional areas for motor control, vision, hearing, and other conscious activities. Patterning of the cortex is disturbed in many cases of autism, and our studies in mice suggest how altered patterning may cause deficits at the same time as sparing other functions in autism.
Tbr1 (blue), Tbr2 (red), and Pax6 (green) are expressed in distinct zones of the embryonic mouse cerebral cortex.