Brain

MADISON -- As the southern pine beetle moves through the forest boring tunnels inside the bark of trees, it brings with it both a helper and a competitor. The helper is a fungus that the insect plants inside the tunnels as food for its young. But also riding along is a tiny, hitchhiking mite, which likewise carries a fungus for feeding its own larvae.

Belief in God encourages people to be helpful, honest and generous, but only under certain psychological conditions, according to University of British Columbia researchers who analyzed the past three decades of social science research.

Religious people are more likely than the non-religious to engage in prosocial behaviour – acts that benefit others at a personal cost – when it enhances the individual's reputation or when religious thoughts are freshly activated in the person's mind, say UBC social psychologists Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff

Images of the brain's fastest signals reveal an electromagnetic marker that predicts a patient's response to a fast-acting antidepressant, researchers have discovered.

"Such biomarkers that identify who will benefit from a new class of antidepressants could someday minimize trial-and-error prescribing and speed delivery of care for what can be a life-threatening illness," said Carlos Zarate, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program.

Amsterdam, 2 October 2008 ­- Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates and flame retardants (PBDEs) are strongly associated with adverse health effects on humans and laboratory animals. A special section in the October 2008 issue of Environmental Research, "A Plastic World" provides critical new research on environmental contaminants and adverse reproductive and behavioral effects.

An overload of calories throws critical portions of the brain out of whack, reveals a study in the October 3rd issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication. That response in the brain's hypothalamus—the "headquarters" for maintaining energy balance—can happen even in the absence of any weight gain, according to the new studies in mice.

MADISON –University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, for the first time, have found a messaging system in the brain that directly affects food intake and body weight.

Reported in the Oct. 3, 2008 issue of Cell, the findings--from a study in mice--point to a completely new approach to treating and preventing obesity in humans. The discovery also offers hope for new ways to treat related disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases--the most prevalent health problems in the United States and the rest of the developed world.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A Northwestern University research team has developed a promising nanomaterial-based biomedical device that could be used to deliver chemotherapy drugs locally to sites where cancerous tumors have been surgically removed.

The flexible microfilm device, which resembles a piece of plastic wrap and can be customized easily into different shapes, has the potential to transform conventional treatment strategies and reduce patients' unnecessary exposure to toxic drugs. The device takes advantage of nanodiamonds, an emergent technology, for sustained drug release.

Much like Pavlov conditioned his dog to salivate in anticipation of food when a bell rang, insects can be trained to perform certain behaviors when enticed with different smells. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have discovered that when training insects, the interval between the signal, or odor, and the reward—delicious sugar water—is everything.

Thought processes made visible: An international team of scientists headed by Mazahir Hasan of the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg has succeeded in optically detecting individual action potentials in the brains of living animals. The scientists introduced fluorescent indicator proteins into the brain cells of mice via viral gene vectors: the illumination of the fluorescent proteins indicates both when and which neurons are communicating with each other.

When an object moves fast, we follow it with our eyes: our brain correspondingly calculates the speed of the object and adapts our eye movement to it. This in itself is an enormous achievement, yet our brain can do even more than that. In the real world, a car will typically accelerate or brake faster than, say, a pedestrian. But the control of eye movement in fact responds more sensitively to changes in the speed of fast moving objects than slow moving objects.

Many breast cancer cells facing potentially lethal antiestrogen therapy recycle to survive, researchers say.

About 70 percent of breast cancer cells have receptors for the hormone estrogen, which acts as a nutrient and stimulates their growth. Patients typically get an antiestrogen such as tamoxifen for five years to try to starve them to death, says Dr. Patricia V. Schoenlein, cancer researcher in the Medical College of Georgia Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies.

U.S. presidential candidates have been stumping for nearly two years with their every move being analyzed and reported ad nauseum. Logically, voters should be able to tap into lots of information when they make their decisions come November. But it turns out there's a lot more going on when we step behind the curtain to cast our ballot.

Thyroid problems affect as many as 27 million Americans. Among the most common problems are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. To help people learn more about thyroid disorders, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has produced four new fact sheets for consumers and health care providers.

We can learn from our mistakes, but how willing are we to talk about them? And what happens when those making mistakes are physicians, who are often expected to be infallible?

Berkeley -- Presidential candidates who play up the threat of terrorism tobolster votes may want to rethink their game plan. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, indicates the war on terror has lessimpact on presidential popularity than it did during President Bush's first term.