Archive for July 2011
Distinguishing between other peoples voices may seem like a trivial task. However, if those people are speaking a language you dont understand, it becomes much harder. Thats because you rely on individuals differences in pronunciation to help identify them. If you dont understand the words they are saying, you dont pick up on those differences.
That ability to process the relationship between sounds and their meanings, also known as phonology, is believed to be impaired in people with dyslexia. Therefore, neuroscientists at MIT theorized that people with dyslexia would find it much more difficult to identify speakers of their native language than non-dyslexic people.
Yale University researchers can’t tell you where you left your car keys — but they can tell you why you can’t find them
A new study published July 27 in the journal Nature shows the neural networks in the brains of the middle-aged and elderly have weaker connections and fire less robustly than in youthful ones. Intriguingly, the research suggests that this condition is reversible.
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Posted July 28, 2011on:
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have been able to switch on, and then switch off, social-behavior deficits in mice that resemble those seen in people with autism and schizophrenia, thanks to a technology that allows scientists to precisely manipulate nerve activity in the brain. In synchrony with this experimentally induced socially aberrant behavior, the mice exhibited a brain-wave pattern called gamma oscillation that has been associated with autism and schizophrenia in humans, the researchers say.
The findings, to be published online in Nature on July 27, lend credence to a hypothesis that has been long floated but hard to test, until now. They mark the first demonstration, the researchers said, that elevating the brain’s susceptibility to stimulation can produce social deficits resembling those of autism and schizophrenia, and that then restoring the balance eases those symptoms.
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Key cells in the brain region known as the hippocampus are formed in the base of the brain late in fetal life and undertake a long journey before reaching their final destination in the center of the brain shortly after birth, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.
The hippocampus is involved with attention, navigation and converting short-term memories to long-term memories. Interneurons, the brain cell population the researchers studied, regulate communication between networks of brain cells. Previous research suggests that brain cell networks in the hippocampus may be disrupted in developmental disorders, including autism, as well as in epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
“The hippocampus seems to be at the crossroads of many disorders affecting the brain,” said Chris McBain, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Cellular and Synaptic Neurophysiology at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “With these findings, we can begin to understand how proper communication is established in the brain and to investigate why sometimes it breaks down in this critical area.”
A Step Closer to Personalized Medicine: Improving Gene Therapy To Treat a Devastating Genetic Disease
Posted July 27, 2011on:
Recent advances in adult stem cell research could change the way doctors treat a host of debilitating diseases. At NIAID, scientists are exploring novel ways to convert adult tissue into more primitive stem cells and then use these cells to treat chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), an inherited disease of the immune system. The most exciting part of NIAID’s research? The treatment cells come from the patient. No donors are necessary.
Neutrophil from a blood smear magnified 100X
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Most health insurers are wary of genetics because, in most cases, it’s not yet clear how a particular genetic variation influences an individual’s health, or whether it should affect their care.
Now Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit health plan, has announced that it’s finished the first phase of a massive project to compile genetic, medical, and environmental information for 100,000 of its members. Researchers also analyzed the length of participants’ telomeres—a molecule structure at the tip of the chromosome that has been linked to aging. This represents the largest telomere study to date.
The resulting data, gathered in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco, will soon be available to outside researchers who study how different genetic and environmental factors influence disease. It took about 15 months for the team to collect and analyze the genomes of 100,000 people ranging in age from 18 to 107. The team used gene microarrays—small chips designed to quickly detect hundreds of thousands of genetic variations across the genome.
Posted July 26, 2011on:
For modern biologists, the ability to capture high-quality, three-dimensional (3D) images of living tissues or organisms over time is necessary to answer problems in areas ranging from genomics to neurobiology and developmental biology. The better the image, the more detailed the information that can be drawn from it. Looking to improve upon current methods of imaging, researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a novel approach that could redefine optical imaging of live biological samples by simultaneously achieving high resolution, high penetration depth (for seeing deep inside 3D samples), and high imaging speed.