June 3, 2013 |
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.
November 20, 2013 |
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.
July 26, 2011 |
Forgotten how to do something you just learned yesterday? Consider the possibility that last night's sleep was punctuated by mini-awakenings, robbing you of the ability to commit that new skill to memory. You might have gotten eight hours of sleep, and may not even feel tired. But when sleep is interrupted frequently--as it is in a wide range of disorders, including sleep apnea, alcoholism and Alzheimer's disease--the ability to learn new things can be dramatically impaired, says a new study conducted on mice.
November 28, 2012 |
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.
February 13, 2013 |
Researchers at USC have made mice insensitive to near-freezing temperatures by deactivating select neurons, a development that could one day lead to new treatments for pain in humans. In a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers used a bacterial toxin to kill neurons equipped with so-called TRPM8 channels, cellular structures that help relay sensations of cold. (The pathway is also responsible for sensing menthol, the cooling component of mint.) Neurons that sense heat and mechanical pain were left intact, however.
October 23, 2012 |
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.