155 posts · 224,180 views
Synaesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway evokes sensations in another sensory modality. This may occur because of abnormal connections between the brain's sensory systems, or because the flow of information between those systems is not inhibited as usual.First described in the 1880s by Francis Galton, synaesthesia is known to exist in several different forms. Galton described "persons who almost invariably think of numerals in visual imagery&........ Read more »
Synaesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway evokes sensations in another sensory modality. This may occur because of abnormal connections between the brain's sensory systems, or because the flow of information between those systems is not inhibited as usual.First described in the 1880s by Francis Galton, synaesthesia is known to exist in several different forms. Galton described "persons...[who] almost invariably think of numerals in visual imag........ Read more »
A team of researchers from Harvard and Columbia University Medical Center have reprogrammed skin cells from an 82-year-old woman suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to generate first stem cells and then motor neurons. This is a significant advance which could aid in the development of drug treatments and cell replacement therapies for the condition and related neurodegenerative disorders.The study, due to be published in the journal Science, demonstrates that skin cells from a chronical........ Read more »
J Dimos, K T Rodolfa, K K Niakan, L M Weisenthal, H Mitsumoto, W Chung, G F Croft, G Saphier, R Leibel, R Goland.... (2008) Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Generated from Patients with ALS Can Be Differentiated into Motor Neurons. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1158799
A new study, published today in the open access journal PLoS One, provides evidence that remaining mentally active throughout life reduces the rate of age-related neurodegeneration and may therefore stave off Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Michael Valenzuela, Perminder Sachdev, Wei Wen, Xiaohua Chen, Henry Brodaty, & Olaf Sporns. (2008) Lifespan Mental Activity Predicts Diminished Rate of Hippocampal Atrophy. PLoS ONE, 3(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002598
The humble nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a millimeter-long roundworm which eeks out its existence in the soil and feeds on bacteria. Because it lives in a dark environment, and lacks specialized light-sensing organs, the nematode has always been assumed to be completely blind. However, a new study published online in Nature Neuroscience shows that C. elegans they possess neurons which are sensitive to light. As well as showing for the first time that C. elegans has a rudimentary sense of vi........ Read more »
Alex Ward, Jie Liu, Zhaoyang Feng, & X Shawn Xu. (2008) Light-sensitive neurons and channels mediate phototaxis in C. elegans. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2155
In a very cool paper published yesterday in the open access journal PLoS Biology, an international team of researchers report that they have produced the most detailed and comprehensive map yet of the connections in the human cerebral cortex.The cerebral cortex contains hundreds of billions of cells organized into thousands of discrete functional modules which act in parallel to generate all human behaviours and cognitive processes.The new study uses neuroimaging to visualize more than 14,000 co........ Read more »
Patric Hagmann, Leila Cammoun, Xavier Gigandet, Reto Meuli, Christopher Honey, Van Wedeen, Olaf Sporns, & Karl Friston. (2008) Mapping the Structural Core of Human Cerebral Cortex. PLoS Biology, 6(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060159
We are being constantly bombarded with news stories containing pretty pictures of the brain, with headings such as "Brain's adventure centre located". Journalists now seem to refer routinely to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as "mind reading", and exaggerated claims about its powers abound, as do misleading, irresponsible and downright ridiculous stories about the technology. Take, for example, this article by Jeffrey Goldberg in The New Atlantic:The prelim........ Read more »
B RIDHA, J BARNES, J BARTLETT, A GODBOLT, T PEPPLE, M ROSSOR, & N FOX. (2006) Tracking atrophy progression in familial Alzheimer's disease: a serial MRI study. The Lancet Neurology, 5(10), 828-834. DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(06)70550-6
General anaesthetics activate a heat-sensitive protein found in pain pathways and may exacerbate post-operative pain, according to a new study published online yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
J Matta, P M Cornett, R L Miyares, K Abe, N Sahibzada, & G P Ahern. (2008) From the Cover: General anesthetics activate a nociceptive ion channel to enhance pain and inflammation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(25), 8784-8789. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0711038105
The 19th century histologists who discovered the neuron also found that the nervous system contains another type of cell. They assumed that the role of these other cells was to provide structural support for neurons, and so named them glia (meaning "glue"). Subsequently, investigators focused their attention on neurons, which they considered to be the key players in brain function, and glia were largely ignored.The view that glia play a secondary role in brain function persisted for ab........ Read more »
J Schummers, H Yu, & M Sur. (2008) Tuned Responses of Astrocytes and Their Influence on Hemodynamic Signals in the Visual Cortex. Science, 320(5883), 1638-1643. DOI: 10.1126/science.1156120
Our closest extant relatives have received a fair bit of attention in the past few days, following the publication of two new behavioural studies which have been picked up by numerous news outlets. First came the study by Fraser et al, which shows that chimps, like humans, console each other with physical contact following bouts of aggression. This was found to occur more often when a fight between two chimps was not followed by reconciliation, and was more likely to take place between individua........ Read more »
Mathias Osvath, & Helena Osvath. (2008) Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and orangutan (Pongo abelii) forethought: self-control and pre-experience in the face of future tool use. Animal Cognition. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-008-0157-0
We believe that memory provides us with a faithful record of past events. But in fact, it is well established that memory is reconstructive, and not reproductive, in nature. In retrieval, a memory is pieced together from fragments, but during the reconstruction errors creep in due to our own biases and expectations.Generally, these errors are small, so despite not being completely accurate, our memories are usually reliable. Occasionally, there are too many errors, and the memory becomes unrelia........ Read more »
M. Turner, L. Cipolotti,, T. A. Yousry, & T. Shallice. (2008) Confabulation: Damage to a specific inferior medial prefrontal system. Cortex, 44(6), 637-648.
When it comes to human brain evolution, it is often said that size matters. The human cerebral cortex is much larger than that of other primates, and therefore its expansion must have been a vital feature of human evolution. Researchers have therefore emphasized the importance of encephalization, the process by which brain mass increased dramatically in relation to total body mass that occurred in the human lineage.However, a new study which used bioinformatics to compare the synapses of distant........ Read more »
Richard Emes, Andrew J Pocklington, Christopher N Anderson, Alex Bayes, Mark O Collins, Catherine A Vickers, Mike D Croning, Bilal R Malik, Jyoti S Choudhary, J Douglas Armstrong.... (2008) Evolutionary expansion and anatomical specialization of synapse proteome complexity. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2135
A group of Dutch researchers report that a 115-year-old who remained mentally alert throughout her whole life had a healthy brain that showed no signs of Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia.The researchers had the unique opportunity to evaluate the woman's performance on psychological tests just a few years before she died, and then later to examine her brain at autopsy.Their findings, due to be published in the August issue of the journal Neurobiology o........ Read more »
Photo by Einat Adar
Our feathered friends provide us with some beautiful examples of the link between brain and behaviour. In some bird species, groups of cells involved in seasonal behaviours die after they have performed their function, but are regenerated by neurogenesis as and when they are needed.Male songbirds, for example, serenade females; the brain nuclei which produce the vocalizations die when the mating season ends, and regenerate as the next one approaches. Similarly, the........ Read more »
E Adar, F Nottebohm, & A Barnea. (2008) The Relationship between Nature of Social Change, Age, and Position of New Neurons and Their Survival in Adult Zebra Finch Brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 28(20), 5394-5400. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5706-07.2008
Researchers report today that human stem cells can rescue mice from an otherwise fatal neurological condition caused by the brain's inability to conduct nervous impulses. The findings, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, raise the possibility of cell transplantation treatments for a number of neurological diseases in which the ability of nerve cells to communicate with each other has been compromised. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Martha Windrem. (2008) Neonatal Chimerization with Human Glial Progenitor Cells Can Both Remyelinate and Rescue the Otherwise Lethally Hypomyelinated Shiverer Mouse. Cell Stem Cell, 2(6), 553-565.
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