Post List

Research / Scholarship posts

(Modify Search »)

  • February 10, 2016
  • 03:07 PM
  • 679 views

Starting age of marijuana use may have long-term effects on brain development

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The age at which an adolescent begins using marijuana may affect typical brain development, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas. In a paper recently published, scientists describe how marijuana use, and the age at which use is initiated, may adversely alter brain structures that underlie higher order thinking.

... Read more »

  • February 9, 2016
  • 02:41 PM
  • 754 views

Brain power: Wirelessly supplying power to the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Human and animal movements generate slight neural signals from their brain cells. These signals obtained using a neural interface are essential for realizing brain-machine interfaces (BMI). Such neural recording systems using wires to connect the implanted device to an external device can cause infections through the opening in the skull. One method of solving this issue is to develop a wireless neural interface that is fully implantable on the brain.

... Read more »

  • February 8, 2016
  • 01:59 PM
  • 927 views

We can build it better: Synthetic biopathway turns agriculture waste into ‘green’ products

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have engineered a new synthetic biopathway that can more efficiently and cost-effectively turn agricultural waste, like corn stover and orange peels, into a variety of useful products ranging from spandex to chicken feed.

... Read more »

Tai, Y., Xiong, M., Jambunathan, P., Wang, J., Wang, J., Stapleton, C., & Zhang, K. (2016) Engineering nonphosphorylative metabolism to generate lignocellulose-derived products. Nature Chemical Biology. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2020  

  • February 8, 2016
  • 12:41 PM
  • 926 views

Why Ask for Directions? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

by Anna Schneider For the iconic monarch butterfly, the shorter days in fall mean it’s time to pack up and head south to a warmer climate! Just like clockwork, the Eastern population of monarch butterflies makes a 2000 mile journey to their winter paradise roosts in central Mexico. The journey in itself is one of the greatest migrations among all animals. But here’s the catch: none of these butterflies has made this trip before. Several generations of monarchs have come and gone over the course of a summer, but the generation born in late August and early September are genetically prepared for months of survival without feeding or breeding. But their predecessors didn’t exactly leave them with a map. How do they know where to go? Do they have a map and compass inside their heads? The answer: yes! Well, sort of… Think about this: if you were lost in the woods and needed to find south, what would you do? Here’s a hint: look up! The sun can be a great resource when you’re lost, and I’m not talking about just asking it for directions. As the Earth rotates on its axis throughout the day, the sun appears to travel overhead. By knowing approximately what time of day it is, you can determine the cardinal directions. Monarchs use specialized cells or organs called photoreceptors that respond to light to establish the position of the sun.Representation of time compensated sun compass orientation used by monarchs; Image created by Anna Schneider.Until recently, it was thought that monarchs simply used the photoreceptors on the top portion of their compound eyes, called the dorsal rim. Past studies have shown that the signals are passed from the photoreceptors on to the “sun compass” region in their brains and the butterflies change direction based on that information. Like most animals, it was assumed that their internal clock was located inside their brains. However, recent research has demonstrated that individuals whose antennae have been painted or removed altogether become disoriented when placed in flight simulators. These monarchs do not adjust for the time of day when trying to fly south. When those same antennae that were removed were placed in a petri dish, they continued to respond to light and showed signs that they continued the pattern of time. This indicates that antennae and the brain are both needed for the monarchs to correctly determine their direction.Diagram of features on the head of a monarch butterfly; Image created by Anna Schneider.Now, estimating which way is South might be fine and dandy on a bright sunny day, but what happens when it’s cloudy? Not a problem for these super-insects! In another recent study, researchers tethered monarchs to flight simulators and altered the magnetic field conditions to see what would happen. When the magnetic field was reversed so magnetic North was in the opposite direction, the butterflies altered their bearings and flew exactly opposite as well. This suggests that monarchs could have some sort of way to detect the earth’s magnetic field, called magnetoreception, which could enhance the photoreception capabilities. Many of the mechanisms behind the migration of these incredible creatures are yet to be discovered, but much progress has been made in the past decade. So next time you see a monarch butterfly, take a second look. There is more than meets the eye.Sources: Gegear, R., Foley, L., Casselman, A., & Reppert, S. (2010). Animal cryptochromes mediate magnetoreception by an unconventional photochemical mechanism Nature, 463 (7282), 804-807 DOI: 10.1038/nature08719 Guerra, P., Gegear, R., & Reppert, S. (2014). A magnetic compass aids monarch butterfly migration Nature Communications, 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5164 Merlin, C., Gegear, R., & Reppert, S. (2009). Antennal Circadian Clocks Coordinate Sun Compass Orientation in Migratory Monarch Butterflies Science, 325 (5948), 1700-1704 DOI: 10.1126/science.1176221 Steven M. Reppert. The Reppert Lab: Migration. University of Massachusetts Medical School: Department of Neurobiology. ... Read more »

  • February 7, 2016
  • 03:07 PM
  • 676 views

The molecular link between psychiatric disorders and type 2 diabetes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

There may be a genetic connection between some mental health disorders and type 2 diabetes. In a new report, scientists show that a gene called “DISC1,” which is believed to play a role in mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and some forms of depression, influences the function of pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

... Read more »

Jurczyk A, Nowosielska A, Przewozniak N, Aryee KE, DiIorio P, Blodgett D, Yang C, Campbell-Thompson M, Atkinson M, Shultz L.... (2016) Beyond the brain: disrupted in schizophrenia 1 regulates pancreatic β-cell function via glycogen synthase kinase-3β. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 30(2), 983-93. PMID: 26546129  

  • February 6, 2016
  • 03:49 PM
  • 752 views

Brain plasticity assorted into functional networks

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Plasticity of the brain, what does that even mean? Well the good news is that it isn’t just a marketing ploy, the brain needs to be “plastic” because we need to be able to adapt. Frankly speaking, the brain still has a lot to learn about itself. Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have made a key finding of the striking differences in how the brain’s cells can change through experience.

... Read more »

  • February 6, 2016
  • 09:52 AM
  • 668 views

Do songbirds perceive melody different from humans?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Last week a fascinating study appeared in PNAS on melody cognition in sparrows (Sturnus vulgaris). It provides an alternative interpretation to the widespread believe that songbirds have a strong bias to rely on absolute pitch (AP) for the recognition of melodies (e.g. Hulse et al., 1992).... Read more »

Hulse, S., Takeuchi, A., & Braaten, R. (1992) Perceptual Invariances in the Comparative Psychology of Music. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 10(2), 151-184. DOI: 10.2307/40285605  

Bregman, M., Patel, A., & Gentner, T. (2016) Songbirds use spectral shape, not pitch, for sound pattern recognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201515380. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515380113  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 03:27 PM
  • 863 views

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton. The study found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.

... Read more »

  • February 4, 2016
  • 03:27 PM
  • 615 views

Taser shock disrupts brain function, has implications for police interrogations

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

More than two million citizens have been Tased by police as Taser stun guns have become one of the preferred less-lethal weapons by police departments across the United States during the past decade. But what does that 50,000-volt shock do to a person's brain?

... Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 03:06 PM
  • 728 views

Investigating potential fetal exposure to antidepressants

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Depression is a serious issue for expecting mothers. Left untreated, depression could have implications for a fetus’s health. But treating the disease during pregnancy may carry health risks for the developing fetus, which makes an expecting mother’s decision whether to take medication a very difficult one. To better understand how antidepressants affect fetuses during pregnancy, scientists studied exposure in mice.

... Read more »

  • February 2, 2016
  • 03:03 PM
  • 730 views

Depressed or inflamed? Inflammation attacks brain’s reward center

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Inflammation is a good thing, it helps the body fight disease, and without it we wouldn't survive. Unfortunately, when inflammation isn't kept under control it can wreak havoc on the body. From potentially causing alzheimer's to arthritis it seems that unchecked inflammation can cause all sorts of issues. In fact, a new study adds to the list of issues out of control inflammation causes in the body.

... Read more »

  • February 2, 2016
  • 11:53 AM
  • 955 views

Are ‘predatory’ journals completely negative, or also a sign of something positive?

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective

Something that is generally, and justifiably, considered negative, can, however, also be a harbinger of an underlying positive development. The case in point is the existence of so-called ‘predatory’ journals, which have – inevitably – emerged in an environment in which a true market for scientific publishing services is slowly taking shape. … Read More →... Read more »

Ding, X., Wellman, H., Wang, Y., Fu, G., & Lee, K. (2015) Theory-of-Mind Training Causes Honest Young Children to Lie. Psychological Science, 26(11), 1812-1821. DOI: 10.1177/0956797615604628  

  • February 1, 2016
  • 03:41 PM
  • 601 views

Blood pressure medicine may improve conversational skills of individuals with autism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

An estimated 1 in 68 children in the United States has autism. The neurodevelopmental disorder, which impairs communication and social interaction skills, can be treated with medications and behavioral therapies, though there is no cure. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that a medication commonly used to treat high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats may have the potential to improve some social functions of individuals with autism.

... Read more »

  • January 31, 2016
  • 02:57 PM
  • 904 views

The brains of patients with schizophrenia vary depending on the type of schizophrenia

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

I have a friend who lost an eye to his brother. Yes, you read that correctly, his brother tried to kill him and in the process he lost his eye. I’ve told this story before, but whenever new schizophrenia research comes out I feel the need to tell it again. While he has forgiven his brother (partly because not long after, he was diagnosed as schizophrenic), he will not be able to see him again until he is released from prison. A tragedy that could’ve been avoided had he been diagnosed sooner. Sadly now that he is treated, most days, you wouldn’t know he’s schizophrenic.

... Read more »

  • January 30, 2016
  • 03:21 PM
  • 601 views

Neurological adaptations to the presence of toxic HIV protein

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Nearly half of HIV infected patients suffer from impaired neurocognitive function. The HIV protein transactivator of transcription (Tat) is an important contributor to HIV neuropathogenesis because it is a potent neurotoxin that continues to be produced despite treatment with antiretroviral therapy.

... Read more »

  • January 29, 2016
  • 01:51 PM
  • 578 views

How to unlock inaccessible genes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

An international team of biologists has discovered how specialized enzymes remodel the extremely condensed genetic material in the nucleus of cells in order to control which genes can be used. It was known that the DNA in cells is wrapped around proteins in structures called nucleosomes that resemble beads on a string, which allow the genetic material to be folded and compacted into a structure called chromatin.

... Read more »

de Dieuleveult, M., Yen, K., Hmitou, I., Depaux, A., Boussouar, F., Dargham, D., Jounier, S., Humbertclaude, H., Ribierre, F., Baulard, C.... (2016) Genome-wide nucleosome specificity and function of chromatin remodellers in ES cells. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature16505  

  • January 28, 2016
  • 02:36 PM
  • 608 views

It’s complicated: Benefits and toxicity of anti-prion antibodies in the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Immunotherapy to ameliorate neurodegeneration by targeting brain protein aggregates with antibodies is an area of intense investigation. A new study examines seemingly contradictory earlier results of targeting the prion protein and proposes a cautionary way forward to further test related therapeutic approaches.

... Read more »

Reimann, R., Sonati, T., Hornemann, S., Herrmann, U., Arand, M., Hawke, S., & Aguzzi, A. (2016) Differential Toxicity of Antibodies to the Prion Protein. PLOS Pathogens, 12(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005401  

  • January 26, 2016
  • 03:20 PM
  • 614 views

Why you should never use the term ‘the mentally ill’

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Even subtle differences in how you refer to people with mental illness can affect levels of tolerance, a new study has found. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers found that participants showed less tolerance toward people who were referred to as "the mentally ill" when compared to those referred to as "people with mental illness."

... Read more »

  • January 25, 2016
  • 02:06 PM
  • 593 views

Scientists shed new light on workings of genetic regulation

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of scientists has uncovered greater intricacy in protein signaling than was previously understood, shedding new light on the nature of genetic production.
... Read more »

  • January 25, 2016
  • 11:52 AM
  • 1,007 views

Zika virus and the negligence towards health research in poor countries

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll About a year ago, almost nobody on the whole world was aware of the existence of a virus named Zika virus and the illness it may cause in humans, the Zika fever or Zika disease. But … Continue reading →... Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit http://selfregulationinstitute.org/.