The growth of brain cells during adolescence is the key to sociability, which produces an opposite effect when impaired or blocked, new research says.
Mice shunned the company of other mice as adults when scientists blocked the growth of their brain cells' (neurons) during adolescence, according to the Yale University study.
New brain cells are being continually generated after birth and at a greater rate during childhood and adolescence, in a process called neurogenesis, the journal Neuroscience reports.
Adult mice which had neurogenesis blocked during adolescence showed no interest in other adult mice and evaded attempts to engage in social behaviour.
"These mice acted like they did not recognize other mice as mice," said Arie Kaffman, assistant professor of psychiatry and senior study author.
This breakthrough could help researchers understand the inner springs of schizophrenia and other mental disorders, according to a Yale statement.
Intriguingly, schizophrenics have a deficit in generating new neurons in the hippocampus, one of the brain areas where new neurons are created.