Brain

Our ability to hear is made possible by way of a Rube Goldberg-style process in which sound vibrations entering the ear shake and jostle a successive chain of structures until, lo and behold, they are converted into electrical signals that can be interpreted by the brain. Exactly how the electrical signal is generated has been the subject of ongoing research interest.

It is well established that a child's brain has a remarkable capacity for change, but controversy continues about the extent to which such plasticity exists in the adult human primary sensory cortex. Now, neuroscientists from MIT and Johns Hopkins University have used converging evidence from brain imaging and behavioral studies to show that the adult visual cortex does indeed reorganize-and that the change affects visual perception. The study appears online Sept. 5 in an advance publication of the Journal of Neuroscience.

It’s well known that the child’s brain has a remarkable capacity for change, but controversy rages about the extent to which such plasticity exists in the adult human brain -- particularly, in the part responsible for vision. Now, scientists from The Johns Hopkins University and MIT offer evidence -- derived from both brain imaging and behavioral studies -- that the adult visual cortex (the area of the brain that receives images from the eyes) does, indeed, have the ability to reorganize. Moreover, that reorganization affects visual perception.

A nationwide survey of the religious beliefs and practices of American physicians has found that the least religious of all medical specialties is psychiatry. Among psychiatrists who have a religion, more than twice as many are Jewish and far fewer are Protestant or Catholic, the two most common religions among physicians overall.

Research by the University at Albany shows that information conveyed by a kiss can have profound consequences for romantic relationships, and can even be a major factor in ending one.

In a recently published article, Susan M. Hughes, Marissa A. Harrison, and Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. reveal that many college students have found themselves attracted to someone, only to discover after they kissed them for the first time that they were no longer interested.

To orient ourselves, we mainly need two pieces of information: where am I and in which direction am I heading?

Experiments in the rat have shown that these types of information are directly accessible and independently coded in the brain. When the rat explores a new territory, so-called place cells and head direction cells form within only a few minutes.

A cannibalistic process called autophagy spurs dying embryonic stem cells to send "eat me" and "come get me" signals to have their corpses purged, a last gasp that paves the way for normal mammalian development, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found.

Autophagy is the way cells devour their own unwanted or damaged parts. It was known to be active in cell death that occurs during normal embryonic development, but its precise role was unclear.

Some thought it might contribute to cell death or actually help keep cells alive.

Low oxygen levels in coastal waters interfere with fish reproduction by disrupting the fishes’ hormones, a marine scientist from The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute has found.

Incidents of seasonal low levels of oxygen, known as hypoxia, have increased dramatically in coastal waters throughout the world over the past few decades, largely as a result of increased run-off from human agricultural and industrial activities. Hypoxia’s long-term impact on marine animal populations is unknown.

The key to battling the neurological devastation of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases is to bind up iron in the brain and weed out the potentially destructive forms of iron that generate harmful free radicals while leaving benign forms of iron alone to carry out vital functions in the body.

Scientists know that information travels between brain cells along hairlike extensions called axons. For the first time, researchers have found that axons don’t just transmit information – they can turn the signal up or down with the right stimulation.

This finding may help scientists develop treatments for psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia in which it is thought that different parts of the brain do not communicate correctly with each other.

In an upcoming issue of G&D, Drs. Maria Divina Deato and Robert Tjian (HHMI, UC Berkeley) reveal that the formation of an alternative transcriptional core promoter complex directs cell-type specific differentiation during myogenesis. The article uncovers a whole new level of transcriptional control of terminal cell differentiation, and will be published online ahead of its September 1 print date at www.genesdev.org.

Administering a substance found in the cannabis plant can help the body’s natural protective system alleviate an allergic skin disease (allergic contact dermatitis), an international group of researchers from Germany, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. has found.

Clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord should be delayed for three minutes after birth, particularly for pre-term infants, suggests a senior doctor in this week’s BMJ.

Early clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord is widely practised as part of the management of labour, but recent studies suggest that it may be harmful to the baby. The rate of early cord clamping varies widely in Europe, from 17% of units in Denmark to 90% in France.

So Dr Andrew Weeks, a senior lecturer in obstetrics at the University of Liverpool, looked at the evidence behind cord clamping.

Mayo Clinic researchers have identified the first immune molecule that appears to play a role in prostate cancer development and in predicting cancer recurrence and progression after surgery. The report on the B7-H3 molecule by Mayo Clinic Cancer Center appears today in Cancer Research.

Columbia University Medical Center researchers have demonstrated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), that brain activity was increased in stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors who underwent Vision Restoration Therapy (VRT), a rehabilitative treatment that helps these patients recover lost vision.