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NEWS
August 4, 2011 | By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
What makes people depressed, biologically speaking? One theory blames brains that can't generate new neurons. The idea goes back to a 2000 study in the Journal of Neuroscience that found that rats who took antidepressants grew new neurons in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is particularly vulnerable to stress. The authors of that study said the new brain cells may well be responsible for easing depressive symptoms in people who took antidepressant medications.
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SCIENCE
February 6, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
A generic blood pressure drug could prevent hyperactive brain cell firing associated with early stages of autism spectrum disorder, according to a new study. Injecting pregnant mice with Bumetanide, a diuretic, appears to correct a developmental switch flipped during childbirth that reverses the firing characteristics of neurons in newborns, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Science. Bumetanide mimics the effects of oxytocin, a hormone released during labor that helps protect newborns from the stresses and complications of birth, the study found.
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SCIENCE
February 6, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
A generic blood pressure drug could prevent hyperactive brain cell firing associated with early stages of autism spectrum disorder, according to a new study. Injecting pregnant mice with Bumetanide, a diuretic, appears to correct a developmental switch flipped during childbirth that reverses the firing characteristics of neurons in newborns, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Science. Bumetanide mimics the effects of oxytocin, a hormone released during labor that helps protect newborns from the stresses and complications of birth, the study found.
SCIENCE
February 3, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
You wouldn't think that dissolving part of the brain, particularly one that helps hold the organ together, would help a gerbil rethink a problem. But that's exactly what a team of German scientists has done. Their results, published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that a lot more is going on in the spaces between neurons, and an area of the brain once thought of as a simple processor may be more like a calculator. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg were focusing on a microscopic scaffold that stabilizes the synapses, the tiny gaps where electrochemical signals are relayed between neurons.
HEALTH
June 1, 2013 | Lily Dayton
As the brain fitness craze grows, so do the number of software programs that promise to boost mental skills. Here, we take a look at three of the largest companies in the digital brain health industry. Each offers trial games that users can play free: -- Lumosity With more than 35,000 registered users -- and more than 600 million game plays -- Lumosity has a strong presence in the brain-training circuit. Users' cognitive abilities are rated on a Brain Performance Index, or BPI, based on scores from tasks designed to test memory, attention, speed, flexibility and problem-solving skills.
NEWS
November 28, 2012 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, For the Booster Shots blog
At the time of his death of an aortic aneurysm at age 76, Albert Einstein's brain was no bigger, and weighed no more, than the brain of an average older male. But beneath that unique organ's external folds and fissures, our universe was re-conceived. So not surprisingly, when photographs of Einstein's postmortem brain unexpectedly came to light recently, scientists were keen to find evidence of the genius that lay within. The result is a remarkably detailed look at the surface of Einstein's brain, published recently in the journal Brain.
SCIENCE
November 20, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
The eyes may be the mirror of the soul, but for those with autism, the mouth will have to do. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center isolated neurons in the brain's amygdala that respond to facial expressions, and tested patients with autism against those without. Both groups could correctly identify a "happy" or "fearful" face, a function long associated with the amygdala. But when the researchers examined which neurons fired in relation to areas of the face, they found that those with autism "read" the information from the mouth area more than from the eyes and seemed to be lacking a population of nerve cells that respond only to images of eyes.
SCIENCE
September 26, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Cocaine messes around with the brain. That scientific no-brainer has been getting more focused over the years, as neuroscientists identify key circuitry that can be reshaped by addiction. But an addiction researcher in Switzerland believes his colleagues may have been a bit too focused on the accelerator instead of the brakes - stimulation rather than disinhibition. Cocaine interferes with a natural inhibitor holding a reward neurotransmitter in balance, and without that brake, an unrestrained flow of dopamine sets off circuitry changes that have been tied to addictive behavior, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Science.
SCIENCE
October 23, 2012 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Here's something for raw-food aficionados to chew on: Cooked food might be a big reason humans were able to grow such large brains compared to their body size, scientists say. If modern human ancestors had eaten only raw food, they'd have to regularly feed more than nine hours a day, according to a study published online Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A pair of researchers from the Instituto Nacional de Neurociéncia Translacional in São Paulo, Brazil, decided to try and help explain why modern humans' brains were able to grow so large compared to their body size and why other primates' brains did not. They looked at the relative brain-to-neuron-counts of a host of primates, from owl monkeys to baboons.
SCIENCE
June 3, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Hyperactive brain cells firing together could be an early indicator of autism and developmental disabilities, a team of UCLA researchers has found. Networks of neurons were found to be firing in a highly synchronized and seemingly unrelenting fashion, even through sleep, in the brains of juvenile mice that have a genetic abnormality similar to one that causes mental retardation and autism symptoms in humans, according to the research published online Monday in Nature Neuroscience.
SCIENCE
November 29, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Researchers have lifted the veil on the brain cells that could explain why so many people remember where they were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas 50 years ago. Cells in the brain “geotag” experience, helping us recall events through a spatial context, according to a study published Friday in the journal Science. The findings offer neurological confirmation of how humans retrieve a past experience -- by restoring a context indexed on a cellular level. Populations of specialized neurons that fired during the initial experience of a place fired in the same way when a subject consciously tried to recall events that occurred there, the study found.
SCIENCE
November 20, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
The eyes may be the mirror of the soul, but for those with autism, the mouth will have to do. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center isolated neurons in the brain's amygdala that respond to facial expressions, and tested patients with autism against those without. Both groups could correctly identify a "happy" or "fearful" face, a function long associated with the amygdala. But when the researchers examined which neurons fired in relation to areas of the face, they found that those with autism "read" the information from the mouth area more than from the eyes and seemed to be lacking a population of nerve cells that respond only to images of eyes.
SCIENCE
November 6, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
For scientists building devices that would allow the paralyzed to interact with their environment (as well as those wishing to understand the workings of the brain), it's important to understand that using two virtual arms is a more complex proposition than using each arm separately and multiplying by two. But with a little help and a lot of technology, a new study shows, even a monkey can be taught to do it. The latest account of a brain-machine interface that could give a quadriplegic two good hands was published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine . The article describes a process by which two monkeys were taught to move two arms on a computer terminal in front of them, using only their thoughts.
SCIENCE
September 26, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Cocaine messes around with the brain. That scientific no-brainer has been getting more focused over the years, as neuroscientists identify key circuitry that can be reshaped by addiction. But an addiction researcher in Switzerland believes his colleagues may have been a bit too focused on the accelerator instead of the brakes - stimulation rather than disinhibition. Cocaine interferes with a natural inhibitor holding a reward neurotransmitter in balance, and without that brake, an unrestrained flow of dopamine sets off circuitry changes that have been tied to addictive behavior, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Science.
SCIENCE
September 9, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
The quadrillion synaptic connections among the neurons of a human brain ought to be enough to intimidate a researcher trying to delve into the mystery of thought, emotion and action. Molecular biologists Thomas Sudhof and Richard Scheller were apparently undaunted, and focused on a small but crucial part of the neurons. In the process, they managed to unlock the molecular mystery of the chemical communication that ties together this vast network of electrochemically firing cells into the most sophisticated computer on Earth.
SCIENCE
June 6, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
If you lived during the early Cold War, you got nuked. On the other hand, you may have grown new brain cells. That's the take-away of research in the journal Cell that calculated the growth of brain cells in adult brains by using an isotope of carbon that was picked up by humans from the fallout due to above-ground nuclear testing from the late 1940s to 1963. Neuroscientists have shifted from an old view that you'll never have more neurons than you had when your brain was a pup. Studies have suggested that adult brains generate new neurons, particularly in the hippocampus, an area crucial to learning and memory.
NEWS
June 10, 2008
Fat cells: A June 2 Health section article on fat cells said that brain cells are never replaced. Although the body doesn't create new cells in the brain's cortex and cerebellum, it does continue to create cells, or neurons, in other parts of the brain.
SCIENCE
June 6, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
If you lived during the early Cold War, you got nuked. On the other hand, you may have grown new brain cells. That's the take-away of research in the journal Cell that calculated the growth of brain cells in adult brains by using an isotope of carbon that was picked up by humans from the fallout due to above-ground nuclear testing from the late 1940s to 1963. Neuroscientists have shifted from an old view that you'll never have more neurons than you had when your brain was a pup. Studies have suggested that adult brains generate new neurons, particularly in the hippocampus, an area crucial to learning and memory.
SCIENCE
June 3, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Hyperactive brain cells firing together could be an early indicator of autism and developmental disabilities, a team of UCLA researchers has found. Networks of neurons were found to be firing in a highly synchronized and seemingly unrelenting fashion, even through sleep, in the brains of juvenile mice that have a genetic abnormality similar to one that causes mental retardation and autism symptoms in humans, according to the research published online Monday in Nature Neuroscience.
HEALTH
June 1, 2013 | Lily Dayton
As the brain fitness craze grows, so do the number of software programs that promise to boost mental skills. Here, we take a look at three of the largest companies in the digital brain health industry. Each offers trial games that users can play free: -- Lumosity With more than 35,000 registered users -- and more than 600 million game plays -- Lumosity has a strong presence in the brain-training circuit. Users' cognitive abilities are rated on a Brain Performance Index, or BPI, based on scores from tasks designed to test memory, attention, speed, flexibility and problem-solving skills.
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