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The Cellular Scale
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  • May 27, 2014
  • 08:16 PM

Sex alters DNA in the brain

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

It's already known that sex causes the neurotransmitters dopamine and oxytocin to be released in the brain. But a recent study has shown that sex can epigenetically modify the DNA in the brain in a way that facilitates pair bonding. The Cellular Scale has an article over at The Toast today telling you all about it.Check it out: The Virgin BrainWang H, Duclot F, Liu Y, Wang Z, & Kabbaj M (2013). Histone deacetylase inhibitors facilitate partner preference formation in female prairie voles. Na........ Read more »

  • February 15, 2014
  • 12:59 PM

A Hop, Skip, and a pre-synaptic Patch

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

This new technique is just too cool not to blog about.  Novak et al. 2013 Figure 1A pre-synaptic patch clampThe synapse is the connection between two neurons. The pre-synaptic part is from the neuron sending a signal and the post-synaptic part is from the neuron receiving the signal. If you want to learn about the connection between the two neurons, you want to know what is happening on both sides of the synapse. It's relatively easy to record signals from the post-synaptic side using patch........ Read more »

Novak P, Gorelik J, Vivekananda U, Shevchuk AI, Ermolyuk YS, Bailey RJ, Bushby AJ, Moss GW, Rusakov DA, Klenerman D.... (2013) Nanoscale-targeted patch-clamp recordings of functional presynaptic ion channels. Neuron, 79(6), 1067-77. PMID: 24050398  

  • September 12, 2013
  • 05:57 PM

Use Imposter Syndrome to become an excellent grad student

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Let's talk about Aristotle for a minute.School of Athens Aristotle is the one in blue.Many people mis-attribute this quote to him:"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit." -Will DurantBut really this quote is from someone summarizing Aristotle. It's a great summary and it seems to say what Aristotle means, just more concisely. Aristotle does say:"For these reasons the virtues are not capacities either; for we are neither called good nor called bad, nor are ........ Read more »

Adam and Galinsky. (2012) Enclothed Cognition. Journal of experimental social psychology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.02.008  

  • July 7, 2013
  • 09:23 AM

Male DNA in the Female Brain

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

When you are pregnant, people like to tell you all sorts of things about yourself.probably the most complimentary thing I have been compared to."you are going to have a boy/girl""you are carrying high/low""you look like an olive on a toothpick/beached whale""you probably have some of your husband's DNA/baby's cells in your brain now."huh?That last one requires a little more explanation. How could new external foreign cells get into my brain? First of all there is the blood-brain barrier which pr........ Read more »

Dawe GS, Tan XW, & Xiao ZC. (2007) Cell migration from baby to mother. Cell adhesion , 1(1), 19-27. PMID: 19262088  

  • May 18, 2013
  • 09:21 AM

Homeostatic platsicity in a thorny situation

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Synapses, the connections between neurons can strengthen and weaken depending on the specific activity at that synapse. This is called synaptic plasticity, and we've talked about it a lot on this blog (here, here, here and here).the strengthening and weakening of synaptic connections corresponds to the spine growing or shrinking (Matsuzaki 2007)However, there is another kind of plasticity that can occur at synapses. This is called homeostatic plasticity. And instead of the synapse strengthening ........ Read more »

  • May 12, 2013
  • 08:00 PM

The Inadvertent Psychological Experiment

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Escape from Camp 14 is deeply disturbing, and I highly recommend it. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine HardenEscape from Camp 14 is a chilling tale of Shin Dong-hyuk's escape from a North Korean prison camp. What is so interesting about Shin Dong-hyuk's story as written by Blaine Harden is that he was born inside this North Korean prison camp. Apparently they allow breeding between prisoners as a reward for 'good behavior.'Escape from Camp 14 reveals the obscene violations of human rights that occur........ Read more »

  • May 2, 2013
  • 12:51 PM

a STORM inside a cell

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

We've been talking about some of the most cutting edge intracellular visualization techniques lately. Array tomography and Serial block-face electron microscopy have been featured. Today we'll talk about STORM imaging. STORM imaging (Xu et al., 2013)STORM stands for Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy. While Array tomography and Serial block-face EM are both revolutionary in that they can combine very high resolution imaging with relatively large volumes of tissue, STORM is an advanceme........ Read more »

  • April 22, 2013
  • 08:20 PM

Connecting Form and Function: Serial Block-face EM

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

The retina is a beautiful and wondrous structure, and it has some really weird cells. Retina by Cajal (source)Retinal Ganglion Cells (RGC) have all sorts of differentiating characteristics. Some are directly sensitive to brightness (like rods and cones), while some are sensitive to the specific direction that a bar is traveling. I am discussing really amazing new techniques to see inside cells this month, and have already posted about the magic that is Array Tomography. Today we'll look at anoth........ Read more »

  • April 17, 2013
  • 05:34 PM

Van Gogh was afraid of the moon and other lies

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

I remember the first time I realized just how easily false information gets spread about.A terrifying starry nightI was in French class in high school. Our homework had been to find out 1 interesting fact about Van Gogh and tell it to the class. When it was my turn, I said some boring small fact that I no longer remember. My friend sitting behind me, however, had a fascinating fact: When Van Gogh was a young child, he was actually afraid of the moon.The teacher and the class were all quite impre........ Read more »

Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U., Seifert, C., Schwarz, N., & Cook, J. (2012) Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(3), 106-131. DOI: 10.1177/1529100612451018  

  • April 13, 2013
  • 10:54 AM

Seeing Inside Cells: Array Tomography

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

I wrote a lot about dopamine and its complicated nature last month after coming back from the IBAGs conference, so for a change of pace, I'll talk about some truly amazing new techniques that allow us to see inside cells with unprecedented resolution and at unprecedented volumes.I've previously discussed some traditional techniques for visualizing specific details in neurons, and this month I'm going to talk about some of the newest fanciest ways to look at cellular scale information.  Firs........ Read more »

  • April 4, 2013
  • 11:26 AM

Neurons and New Newt Legs

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Salamanders are amazing and mystical creatures. Salamanders and their amazing leg-growing superpower (source)Not because they can survive in fire (they can't), but because they can regrow amputated limbs.A paper in 2007 investigates exactly what neural signals are required for this amazing superpower. Newt Amputee (Kumar et al., 2007)This paper brings together two interesting things about salamander (newt) leg growth.1. The salamander arm 'knows' where it was cut. If it is cut at the wrist it on........ Read more »

Kumar A, Godwin JW, Gates PB, Garza-Garcia AA, & Brockes JP. (2007) Molecular basis for the nerve dependence of limb regeneration in an adult vertebrate. Science (New York, N.Y.), 318(5851), 772-7. PMID: 17975060  

  • March 26, 2013
  • 06:42 PM

Advice vs Victim-blaming: a proposed study on #safetytipsforladies

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

So there has been a lot of noise about whether giving women 'safety tips' to avoid being raped is a form of 'victim blaming'.Don't get Raped (source)This culminated in a great hashtag (as many things do). Follow #safetytipsforladies to see some lovely tips for avoiding rape.For example:Don't be anywhere. 100% of rapes happen in places and locations. #safetytipsforladies— Conna Stevenson (@1000DaysOfRain) March 25, 2013Others suggest simply not being a woman, not ever drinking anything, not eve........ Read more »

  • March 25, 2013
  • 08:38 AM

Guest Post: AMPA Receptors are not Necessary for long term potentiation

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Today's post is brought to you by @BabyAttachMode, who is an electrophysiologist and blogger. Today we are blog swapping! I have a post over at her blog and her post about AMPA receptors and LTP is here. So enjoy, and when you're done reading about the newest advances in synaptic plasticity here, you can head over to InBabyAttachMode and read about my personal life. AMPA Receptors are not Necessary for long term potentiationScience is most interesting to me when you’re testing a hypo........ Read more »

Sheng M, Malinow R, & Huganir R. (2013) Neuroscience: Strength in numbers. Nature, 493(7433), 482-3. PMID: 23344353  

  • March 19, 2013
  • 04:41 PM

What is up with the "Dopamine Project"?

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

Someone is trying to make me eat my words.yum. (source)That someone is the Dopamine Project. I am on record as saying "It is better for the public to learn simplified bite-size science morsels than to learn nothing at all." And my specific example was that it's better for people to know that 'dopamine is a reward molecule' than to not even know the term dopamine.But sometimes things just go too far. The "Dopamine Project" is a website run by Charles Lyell with a stated 'self-help' purpose: "The ........ Read more »

Shermer M. (2011) What is pseudoscience?. Scientific American, 305(3), 92. PMID: 21870452  

  • March 15, 2013
  • 01:26 PM

Is it 'Important' or is it 'valuable'?

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

We've recently discussed dopamine as a reward prediction signal. But that is really just the start of the complicated dopamine story. Dopamine's role in reward and punishment (by the hiking artist)Some research groups have also found that dopamine neurons respond to aversive stimuli, like an air puff to the face or an electric shock. This finding seems to be be completely incompatible with the idea that dopamine is a signal for reward. Luckily some scientists took the time to try to resolve this........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2013
  • 04:07 PM

Dopamine and Reward Prediction Error

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

I am back from the IBAGS conference and full of new information! I plan to blog about tons of amazing things over the next month or so, but today we'll start with some foundation building.Dopamine nails (source)The IBAGS (international basal ganglia society) meeting is all about the basal ganglia (which includes the striatum), and as you may know, dopamine is a super important molecule for the proper function of the striatum (it is the dopamine cells that die in Parkinson's Disease).There were m........ Read more »

Schultz W. (1998) Predictive reward signal of dopamine neurons. Journal of neurophysiology, 80(1), 1-27. PMID: 9658025  

  • February 27, 2013
  • 09:48 AM

GABA, how exciting!

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

I would like to thank my good friend Anonymous for asking me a great question on a previous post. Anonymous asks: "Are there any known transmitters in the NS that activate both inhibitory receptor subtypes AND excitatory receptor subtypes? Or does every known transmitter activate EITHER a bunch of excitatory subtypes OR a bunch of inhibitory subtypes?" (btw. This doesn't qualify as a LMAYQ post because it's a real true question that someone directly asked, not a search term)While I don'........ Read more »

Chiang PH, Wu PY, Kuo TW, Liu YC, Chan CF, Chien TC, Cheng JK, Huang YY, Chiu CD, & Lien CC. (2012) GABA is depolarizing in hippocampal dentate granule cells of the adolescent and adult rats. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 32(1), 62-7. PMID: 22219270  

  • February 24, 2013
  • 01:00 PM

Scientizing Art

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

I've always been fascinated with the way the eye moves around a piece of art. Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World" (or as I looked up "that painting of a girl in a field looking at a house")This piece by Andrew Wyeth is an obvious example of an artist completely controlling your gaze. There are pretty much no options here. You look at the girl and then you follow her gaze to the house. You probably then take a quick glance at that other house/barn to the left, and then maybe follow the edge of the........ Read more »

Massaro D, Savazzi F, Di Dio C, Freedberg D, Gallese V, Gilli G, & Marchetti A. (2012) When art moves the eyes: a behavioral and eye-tracking study. PloS one, 7(5). PMID: 22624007  

  • February 21, 2013
  • 06:37 PM

Birthing new neurons at night

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

By now it's well established that adults can grow new neurons.Growing Neurons (source)But how, when and why these neurons grow is currently under investigation. A 2008 paper attempts to answer the 'when' of neurogenesis. They labeled (PH3) cells in the mouse hippocampus (dentate gyrus to be specific), and counted how many cells were currently going through mitosis at different times of day. They found that during the dark phase, more cells were PH3-positive, indicating that more cells were ........ Read more »

  • February 14, 2013
  • 10:38 AM

It's not you, it's my birth control

by TheCellularScale in The Cellular Scale

So, Valentine's Day, what better time to question the foundations of your relationship?It's my brain that loves you (source)Well, part of your relationship may be based on your Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) compatibility. The MHC is a cluster of genes that define which antigens get expressed on white blood cells. It is thought to control the ability of the body to recognize pathogens as 'other.' It is also thought that the more varied the genes in your MHC are, the more resist........ Read more »

Roberts SC, Gosling LM, Carter V, & Petrie M. (2008) MHC-correlated odour preferences in humans and the use of oral contraceptives. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 275(1652), 2715-22. PMID: 18700206  

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