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Scientists identify key pathway that regulates 'switch' between wakefulness and sleep

Scientists identify key pathway that regulates 'switch' between wakefulness and sleep

Falling asleep and waking up are key transitions in everyone's day. Millions of people have trouble with these transitions - they find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, and hard to stay awake during the day. Despite decades of research, how these transitions work - the neurobiological mechanics of our circadian rhythm - has remained largely a mystery to brain scientists. [More]
Newly found mechanism of color vision illustrates why people perceive color blue in dim light

Newly found mechanism of color vision illustrates why people perceive color blue in dim light

The swirling skies of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night illustrate a mystery that has eluded biologists for more than a century--why do we perceive the color blue in the dimly lit night sky? A newly discovered mechanism of color vision in mice might help answer this question, Caltech researchers say. [More]
Glial cells can modulate specific nerve endings in the brain, find Rockefeller scientists

Glial cells can modulate specific nerve endings in the brain, find Rockefeller scientists

More than half of our brains are made up of glial cells, which wrap around nerve fibers and insulate them--similarly to how the plastic casing of an electric cable insulates the copper wire within--allowing electrical and chemical impulses to travel faster. [More]
Chemists design set of molecules that promote microscopic, anatomical changes in neurons

Chemists design set of molecules that promote microscopic, anatomical changes in neurons

Chemists at the University of California San Diego have designed a set of molecules that promote microscopic, anatomical changes in neurons associated with the formation and retention of memories. These drug candidates also prevent deterioration of the same neuronal structures in the presence of amyloid-beta, a protein fragment that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. [More]
Rockefeller scientists study molecular mechanism that causes linker cell death in worms

Rockefeller scientists study molecular mechanism that causes linker cell death in worms

Some cells are meant to live, and some are meant to die. The linker cell of Caenorhabditis elegans, a tiny worm that is a favored model organism for biologists, is among those destined for termination. [More]
Salk scientists identify specific cellular switches that clear dying, dead neurons

Salk scientists identify specific cellular switches that clear dying, dead neurons

By adolescence, your brain already contains most of the neurons that you'll have for the rest of your life. But a few regions continue to grow new nerve cells--and require the services of cellular sentinels, specialized immune cells that keep the brain safe by getting rid of dead or dysfunctional cells. [More]
New technologies can improve memory, learning in cognitive deficit patients

New technologies can improve memory, learning in cognitive deficit patients

People are using brain-machine interfaces to restore motor function in ways never before possible - through limb prosthetics and exoskletons. But technologies to repair and improve cognition have been more elusive. That is rapidly changing with new tools - from fully implantable brain devices to neuron-eavesdropping grids atop the brain - to directly probe the mind. [More]
Study explores two new antibodies believed to cause myasthenia gravis

Study explores two new antibodies believed to cause myasthenia gravis

A study of patients from across the nation with myasthenia gravis is helping determine the incidence of two new antibodies believed to cause the disease, and whether these patients need different treatment strategies. [More]
Commonly used fungicides could cause gene expression changes in brain cells

Commonly used fungicides could cause gene expression changes in brain cells

Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine have found a class of commonly used fungicides that produce gene expression changes similar to those in people with autism and neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease. [More]
Network of connections between neurons reveals how brain circuits are organized

Network of connections between neurons reveals how brain circuits are organized

Even the simplest networks of neurons in the brain are composed of millions of connections, and examining these vast networks is critical to understanding how the brain works. [More]
Lack of UBE3A gene causes Angelman syndrome

Lack of UBE3A gene causes Angelman syndrome

The gene UBE3A plays a critical role in early neurological development. If UBE3A is overexpressed - or if the enzymatic function of UBE3A protein is hyperactive - autism ensues. A lack of functional UBE3A causes Angelman syndrome (AS), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by severe developmental delay, motor deficits, absence of speech, and, in most cases, epilepsy. [More]
Researchers link AFD activity to sensory responses and behavior

Researchers link AFD activity to sensory responses and behavior

When the surrounding environment makes us uncomfortable, we are inclined to move to a more agreeable one. Studies have shown that animals do the same. They organize sequences of movements to migrate to preferred environments. Understanding how environmental information is converted to sensory information in the brain is vital for a deeper understanding of animal behavior and human perception. [More]

New study provides insight into working memory

When you hold in mind a sentence you have just read or a phone number you're about to dial, you're engaging a critical brain system known as working memory. [More]
UW-Madison neuroscientist discover genetic machinery that causes maturation in young nerve cells

UW-Madison neuroscientist discover genetic machinery that causes maturation in young nerve cells

In one of the first studies to 'read' the genetic activity inside individual brain cells, University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist Xinyu Zhao has identified the genetic machinery that causes maturation in a young nerve cell. The cells under study came from the hippocampus, a memory-related structure that is the only place in a mammal's brain where new neurons can form throughout life. [More]
CIRM approves $6.3 million grant to support research on novel stem cell-based therapy for ALS

CIRM approves $6.3 million grant to support research on novel stem cell-based therapy for ALS

The Independent Citizens Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine approved yesterday a $6.3 million grant to a research team from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and University of California, Davis to pursue a novel human embryonic stem cell-based therapy to rescue and restore neurons devastated by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. [More]
New 3D micro-scaffold technology promotes reprogramming of stem cells into neurons

New 3D micro-scaffold technology promotes reprogramming of stem cells into neurons

National Institutes of Health-funded scientists have developed a 3D micro-scaffold technology that promotes reprogramming of stem cells into neurons, and supports growth of neuronal connections capable of transmitting electrical signals. [More]
Anti-anxiety drug reduces autistic features in Jacobsen syndrome mice

Anti-anxiety drug reduces autistic features in Jacobsen syndrome mice

About half of children born with Jacobsen syndrome, a rare inherited disease, experience social and behavioral issues consistent with autism spectrum disorders. Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and collaborators developed a mouse model of the disease that also exhibits autism-like social behaviors and used it to unravel the molecular mechanism that connects the genetic defects inherited in Jacobsen syndrome to effects on brain function. [More]
NIMH-supported researchers discover key secrets of the underlying brain circuitry

NIMH-supported researchers discover key secrets of the underlying brain circuitry

A few years ago, researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health discovered in rats that awake mental replay of past experiences is critical for learning and making informed choices. Now, the team has discovered key secrets of the underlying brain circuitry -- including a unique system that encodes location during inactive periods. [More]
Grid cells involved in broader range of cognitive process than previously thought

Grid cells involved in broader range of cognitive process than previously thought

Evidence of grid cell activity has been seen in healthy volunteers asked to imagine moving through an environment in new UCL research funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust. [More]
Scientists discover brain mechanisms that separate food consumption from cravings

Scientists discover brain mechanisms that separate food consumption from cravings

Researchers investigating eating disorders often study chemical and neurological functions in the brain to discover clues to overeating. Understanding non-homeostatic eating -- or eating that is driven more by palatability, habit and food cues -- and how it works in the brain may help neuroscientists determine how to control cravings, maintain healthier weights and promote healthier lifestyles. Scientists at the University of Missouri recently discovered the chemical circuits and mechanisms in the brain that separate food consumption from cravings. Knowing more about these mechanisms could help researchers develop drugs that reduce overeating. [More]
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