T. gondii cyst in a mouse brain.
For a simple protozoan, Toxoplasma gondii has experienced something of a meteoric rise in popularity over the past several years. Actually, to be fair T. gondii has garnered quite a bit of interest since the 1930s, when it was discovered the parasite could be transmitted from a mother to a fetus in the womb, sometimes resulting in severe congenital disorders. Curiosity about T. gondii grew significantly in the early 2000s, ........ Read more »
A remarkable case report describes the brain activity in a man at the moment that he underwent a revelatory experience.
According to the authors, Israeli researchers Arzy and Schurr, the man was 46 years old. He was Jewish, but he had never been especially religious. His supernatural experience occured in hospital where he was undergoing tests to help treat his right temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), a condition which he had suffered from for forty years. As part of the testing procedure, the pat... Read more »
Arzy S, & Schurr R. (2016) "God has sent me to you": Right temporal epilepsy, left prefrontal psychosis. Epilepsy , 7-10. PMID: 27176877
Recently, scientists discovered a new learning rule for a specific type of excitatory synaptic connection in the hippocampus. These synapses are located in the so-called CA3 region of the hippocampus, which plays a critical role for storage and recall of spatial information in the brain. One of its hallmark properties is that memory recall can even be triggered by incomplete cues. This enables the network to complete neuronal activity patterns, a phenomenon termed pattern completion.
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Mishra, R., Kim, S., Guzman, S., & Jonas, P. (2016) Symmetric spike timing-dependent plasticity at CA3–CA3 synapses optimizes storage and recall in autoassociative networks. Nature Communications, 11552. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11552
Sleep can often feel like a fall into annihilation and rebirth. One moment you have all the memories and aches of a long day behind you, the next you wake up from nothingness into the start of something new. Or: a rush from … Continue reading →... Read more »
Hengen, K., Torrado Pacheco, A., McGregor, J., Van Hooser, S., & Turrigiano, G. (2016) Neuronal Firing Rate Homeostasis Is Inhibited by Sleep and Promoted by Wake. Cell, 165(1), 180-191. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.01.046
Each year, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These injuries occur most frequently from falling, but can also result from military combat, car accidents, contact sports or domestic abuse. Recently, physicians and researchers have become increasingly concerned that even mild cases of repetitive brain trauma could have long-term, unanticipated consequences.
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Barekat, A., Gonzalez, A., Mauntz, R., Kotzebue, R., Molina, B., El-Mecharrafie, N., Conner, C., Garza, S., Melkani, G., Joiner, W.... (2016) Using Drosophila as an integrated model to study mild repetitive traumatic brain injury. Scientific Reports, 25252. DOI: 10.1038/srep25252
Homicide rates in the U.S. represent a significant public health challenge. Homicide is a top ten leading cause of death in many groups in the U.S.One method to reduce homicide rates is to quickly identify and arrest individuals who have committed homicide. This is due to the fact that individuals committing homicide have a high rate of future homicide.A recent study from Michigan State University and Indiana University examined characteristics of U.S. police departments that have high rates of ........ Read more »
Carter, D., & Carter, J. (2015) Effective Police Homicide Investigations: Evidence From Seven Cities With High Clearance Rates. Homicide Studies, 20(2), 150-176. DOI: 10.1177/1088767915576996
Seafood intake has been linked to a variety of improvements in health. Additionally, there is some evidence linking seafood intake with slower cognitive decline in aging populations.A recent study adds to this age-related cognitive benefit of seafood intake.A collaborative group of researchers from Rush University Medical Center and the Wageningen University in the Netherlands conducted a prospective study.This study followed 915 subjects with a mean age of 81.4 years over a five year period. Su........ Read more »
van de Rest, O., Wang, Y., Barnes, L., Tangney, C., Bennett, D., & Morris, M. (2016) APOE 4 and the associations of seafood and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids with cognitive decline. Neurology. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000002719
Here is a graphic tutorial on the large impact that small changes can make in a face's superficial architecture...... Read more »
We're constantly bombarded by advertisements telling us we are too fat, too thin, not curvy enough, not flat enough -- or more often than not -- simply not enough. It shouldn't be a surprise to see that effect our day to day life, like it or not -- and it has. Researchers have just published results from a national study on the factors linked to satisfaction with appearance and weight.
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Frederick, D., Sandhu, G., Morse, P., & Swami, V. (2016) Correlates of appearance and weight satisfaction in a U.S. National Sample: Personality, attachment style, television viewing, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. Body Image, 191-203. DOI: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.04.001
Smartphones contribute a treasure trove of data that is likely to expand our knowledge of a variety of human behaviors.An example of this is a recent study published in Science Advances by a research team from the University of Michigan.The University of Michigan team developed a smartphone app called ENTRAIN and then used the app to collect sleep data on subjects from around the world.They came up with some very interesting findings including the following:The time of going to sleep appears mor........ Read more »
Walch, O., Cochran, A., & Forger, D. (2016) A global quantification of "normal" sleep schedules using smartphone data. Science Advances, 2(5). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501705
(Also appeared on United Academics) Sleep cycles When we leave the day behind us and nestle ourselves in our cosy beds, we sleep. Sleep, however, comes in stages that repeat themselves. It’s a five-stage cycle that last about 90 minutes in humans. Four stages of non-REM sleep are followed by a period of REM (Rapid […]... Read more »
Ólafsdóttir HF, Barry C, Saleem AB, Hassabis D, & Spiers HJ. (2015) Hippocampal place cells construct reward related sequences through unexplored space. eLife. PMID: 26112828
Shein-Idelson M, Ondracek JM, Liaw HP, Reiter S, & Laurent G. (2016) Slow waves, sharp waves, ripples, and REM in sleeping dragons. Science (New York, N.Y.), 352(6285), 590-5. PMID: 27126045
Dealing with psychotic patients takes more than looking at their diagnostic labels.... Read more »
Heering, H., van Haren, N., & Derks, E. (2013) A two-factor structure of first rank symptoms in patients with a psychotic disorder. Schizophrenia Research, 147(2-3), 269-274. DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2013.04.032
Heering, H., Koevoets, G., Koenders, L., Machielsen, M., Meijer, C., Kubota, M., de Nijs, J., Cahn, W., Hulshoff Pol, H., de Haan, L.... (2015) Structural MRI Differences between Patients with and without First Rank Symptoms: A Delusion?. Frontiers in Psychiatry. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2015.00107
Nelson B, Whitford TJ, Lavoie S, & Sass LA. (2014) What are the neurocognitive correlates of basic self-disturbance in schizophrenia? Integrating phenomenology and neurocognition: Part 2 (aberrant salience). Schizophrenia research, 152(1), 20-7. PMID: 23863772
Perälä, J., Suvisaari, J., Saarni, S., Kuoppasalmi, K., Isometsä, E., Pirkola, S., Partonen, T., Tuulio-Henriksson, A., Hintikka, J., Kieseppä, T.... (2007) Lifetime Prevalence of Psychotic and Bipolar I Disorders in a General Population. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(1), 19. DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.64.1.19
A new study on the epigenetics of lactose intolerance may provide an approach to understanding schizophrenia and other complex, serious illnesses. While that may seem odd, both lactose intolerance and schizophrenia are inherited. In addition, neither condition emerges in the first years of life, but rather both appear years or even decades later.
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Labrie, V., Buske, O., Oh, E., Jeremian, R., Ptak, C., Gasiūnas, G., Maleckas, A., Petereit, R., Žvirbliene, A., Adamonis, K.... (2016) Lactase nonpersistence is directed by DNA-variation-dependent epigenetic aging. Nature Structural . DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.3227
By Hayley TrzinskiImage by Hayley TrzinskiThe Princess and the Frog is a very fun and imaginative children’s story… but not when pesticides are involved. Have you ever wondered how dangerous pesticides can be? Well, pesticides can harm more than just pests and weeds, and in the case of frogs, many pesticides and herbicides are causing problems. Atrazine, a chemical commonly used as an herbicide, can cause reproduction in male African clawed frogs to be impossible. In some cases, atrazine i........ Read more »
Hayes, T., Khoury, V., Narayan, A., Nazir, M., Park, A., Brown, T., Adame, L., Chan, E., Buchholz, D., Stueve, T.... (2010) Atrazine induces complete feminization and chemical castration in male African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(10), 4612-4617. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0909519107
Mnif, W., Hassine, A., Bouaziz, A., Bartegi, A., Thomas, O., & Roig, B. (2011) Effect of Endocrine Disruptor Pesticides: A Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 8(12), 2265-2303. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph8062265
Sleeping reptiles show brain patterns resembling sleep cycles in mammals and birds.... Read more »
Ólafsdóttir, H., Barry, C., Saleem, A., Hassabis, D., & Spiers, H. (2015) Hippocampal place cells construct reward related sequences through unexplored space. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.06063
Shein-Idelson, M., Ondracek, J., Liaw, H., Reiter, S., & Laurent, G. (2016) Slow waves, sharp waves, ripples, and REM in sleeping dragons. Science, 352(6285), 590-595. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3621
Tablet and laptop users beware. Using digital platforms such as tablets and laptops for reading may make you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly, according to a new study. The findings serve as another wake-up call to how digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought.
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Geoff Kaufman, & Mary Flanagan. (2016) High-Low Split: Divergent Cognitive Construal Levels Triggered by Digital and Non-digital Platforms. Association for Computing Machinery. DOI: 10.1145/2858036.2858550
The “musical” nature of birdsong has long been appreciated by humans - a new study suggests birds themselves might be attending to soemthing else..... Read more »
Bregman, M., Patel, A., & Gentner, T. (2016) Songbirds use spectral shape, not pitch, for sound pattern recognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(6), 1666-1671. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515380113
Hoeschele, M., Merchant, H., Kikuchi, Y., Hattori, Y., & ten Cate, C. (2015) Searching for the origins of musicality across species. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140094-20140094. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0094
In recent years there has been great research interest in ketamine as an antidepressant. Ketamine, a drug better-known for its use as an anaesthetic (and a recreational drug in lower doses) is claimed to have powerful, rapid-acting antidepressant effects, even in depressed patients who have not responded to more conventional drugs. However, its mechanism of action remains unclear.
Now, in a major new Nature paper, Baltimore researchers Panos Zanos and colleagues say that ketamine itself is ... Read more »
Zanos P, Moaddel R, Morris PJ, Georgiou P, Fischell J, Elmer GI, Alkondon M, Yuan P, Pribut HJ, Singh NS.... (2016) NMDAR inhibition-independent antidepressant actions of ketamine metabolites. Nature. PMID: 27144355
A pioneering study of worldwide sleep patterns combines math modeling, mobile apps and big data to parse the roles society and biology each play in setting sleep schedules. The study used a free smartphone app that reduces jetlag to gather robust sleep data from thousands of people in 100 nations. The researchers examined how age, gender, amount of light and home country affect the amount of shut-eye people around the globe get, when they go to bed, and when they wake up.
... Read more »
Olivia J. Walch, Amy Cochran, & Daniel B. Forger. (2016) A global quantification of “normal” sleep schedules using smartphone data . Science Advances. info:/10.1126/sciadv.1501705
Brain scans show the human brain under LSD and explain how hallucinations occur.... Read more »
Carhart-Harris, R., Muthukumaraswamy, S., Roseman, L., Kaelen, M., Droog, W., Murphy, K., Tagliazucchi, E., Schenberg, E., Nest, T., Orban, C.... (2016) Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(17), 4853-4858. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1518377113
Carhart-Harris, R., Leech, R., Hellyer, P., Shanahan, M., Feilding, A., Tagliazucchi, E., Chialvo, D., & Nutt, D. (2014) The entropic brain: a theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelic drugs. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00020
Hagmann, P., Cammoun, L., Gigandet, X., Meuli, R., Honey, C., Wedeen, V., & Sporns, O. (2008) Mapping the Structural Core of Human Cerebral Cortex. PLoS Biology, 6(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060159
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