September 26, 2013 |
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.
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.
August 2, 2011 |
It's all shrinking-brain stuff this week in the health news world, it seems. Yesterday, we reported that obesity (as well as smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure) in midlife causes brains to shrink at an accelerated clip. Today, we learn that dieting causes certain brain cells to start eating bits of themselves -- triggering a hunger response. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. This act of self-cannibalism was reported by scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the journal Cell Metabolism . It occurs in mice. But there's a very good chance it would also happen in our heads as well, since many metabolic processes are very similar between our two species -- especially ancient important ones such as "eat more when you're burning more calories than you're taking in. " The neurons in question are specific ones in the hypothalamus that are involved in appetite regulation. What happens is this: The neurons in starved mice start chomping on themselves in a process known technically as autophagy ("self-eat")
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.
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.
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.