Brain

Researchers from China, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, have created a model that shows exactly how, when a baby suckles at a mother's breast, it starts a chain of events that leads to a surge of the "trust" hormone oxytocin in their mother's brain. Details are published July 18th in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology.

Researchers from Utrecht University, The Netherlands, have developed a model that illustrates how HIV evades the immune system. The study, published July 18th in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology, incorporates detailed interactions between a mutating virus and the immune system.

A drug once approved as an antihistamine in Russia improved thinking processes and ability to function in patients with Alzheimer's disease in a study conducted there, said an expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The findings are published in the current issue of the journal The Lancet.

"More research is needed, but we are encouraged by the effect the drug Dimebon had on Alzheimer's patients" said Dr. Rachelle Doody, professor of neurology at BCM and lead author of the study.

Joubert syndrome is an inherited disorder that affects the area of the brain that controls balance and coordination; it is characterized by symptoms such as loss of muscle tone, developmental delay, and mental retardation. Mutations in several genes have been associated with Joubert syndrome. The mutations in one of these, AHI1, are known to generate truncated forms of the AHI1 protein but how this contributes to the development of disease has not been determined.

EDITOR'S PICK: Loss of stability of the AHI1-HAP1 complex an issue in Joubert syndrome

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The invasion of predatory lionfish in the Caribbean region poses yet another major threat there to coral reef ecosystems – a new study has found that within a short period after the entry of lionfish into an area, the survival of other reef fishes is slashed by about 80 percent.

Aside from the rapid and immediate mortality of marine life, the loss of herbivorous fish also sets the stage for seaweeds to potentially overwhelm the coral reefs and disrupt the delicate ecological balance in which they exist, according to scientists from Oregon State University.

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—A male midshipman, a close relative of the toadfish, doesn't need good looks to attract a mate – just a nice voice. After building a nest for his potential partner, he calls to nearby females by contracting his swim bladder, the air-filled sac fish use to maintain buoyancy. The sound he makes is not a song or a whistle, but a hum; more reminiscent of a long-winded foghorn than a ballad. Female midshipman find it very alluring, and they only approach a male's nest if he makes this call.

Cambridge researchers have discovered that measuring activity in a region of the brain could help to identify people at risk of developing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

As the current diagnosis of OCD is based on a clinical interview and often does not occur until the disorder has progressed, this could enable earlier more objective detection, and intervention.

It's a long way from the dull hums of the amorous midshipman fish to the strains of a Puccini aria – or, alas, even to the simplest Celine Dion melody. But the neural circuitry that led to the human love song – not to mention birdsongs, frog thrums and mating calls of all manner of vertebrates – was likely laid down hundreds of millions of years ago with the hums and grunts of the homely piscine.

New evidence that the brain regions responsible for vision are capable of adapting in adults offers new hope for those with an untreated condition commonly known as lazy eye. Also called amblyopia, the condition is the most prevalent cause of visual impairment in a single eye, affecting about six million people in the United States alone.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Anyone who has seen an optical illusion can recall the quirky moment when you realize that the image being perceived is different from objective reality. Now, a team of scientists from MIT, Harvard and McGill has designed a new illusion involving the sense of touch, which is helping to glean new insights into perception and how different senses—such as touch and sight—work together.

New Cancer Stem Cell Identified A Potential Metastatic Disease Target?

NEW YORK, July 17, 2008 —Today, the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced that it will not go ahead with the proposed Phase IIb AIDS vaccine trial known as PAVE 100. The announcement followed the failure last September of an AIDS vaccine candidate with some similarities to the PAVE 100 candidate in a Phase IIb trial known as STEP.

Philadelphia, PA, July 17, 2008 – Both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can be disabling conditions, and both present clinically with significant mood and psychotic symptoms. These two illnesses also share genetic variants that might be involved in the predisposition to both disorders. A new study scheduled for publication in the July 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry sought to analyze the patterns of gene expression in the brains of individuals diagnosed with one of these disorders to search for a common "characteristic [genetic] signature."

Philadelphia, PA, July 17, 2008 – Psychiatry has begun the laborious effort of preparing the DSM-V, the new iteration of its diagnostic manual. In so doing, it once again wrestles with the task set by Carl Linnaeus, to "cleave nature at its joints." However, these "joints," the boundaries between psychiatric disorders, such as that between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are far from clear. Prior versions of DSM followed the path outlined by Emil Kraeplin in separating these disorders into distinct categories.