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  • February 6, 2016
  • 03:49 PM
  • 27 views

Brain plasticity assorted into functional networks

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Plasticity of the brain, what does that even mean? Well the good news is that it isn’t just a marketing ploy, the brain needs to be “plastic” because we need to be able to adapt. Frankly speaking, the brain still has a lot to learn about itself. Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have made a key finding of the striking differences in how the brain’s cells can change through experience.

... Read more »

  • February 6, 2016
  • 09:52 AM
  • 26 views

Do songbirds perceive melody different from humans?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Last week a fascinating study appeared in PNAS on melody cognition in sparrows (Sturnus vulgaris). It provides an alternative interpretation to the widespread believe that songbirds have a strong bias to rely on absolute pitch (AP) for the recognition of melodies (e.g. Hulse et al., 1992).... Read more »

Hulse, S., Takeuchi, A., & Braaten, R. (1992) Perceptual Invariances in the Comparative Psychology of Music. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 10(2), 151-184. DOI: 10.2307/40285605  

Bregman, M., Patel, A., & Gentner, T. (2016) Songbirds use spectral shape, not pitch, for sound pattern recognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201515380. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515380113  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 03:27 PM
  • 54 views

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton. The study found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.

... Read more »

  • February 4, 2016
  • 03:27 PM
  • 68 views

Taser shock disrupts brain function, has implications for police interrogations

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

More than two million citizens have been Tased by police as Taser stun guns have become one of the preferred less-lethal weapons by police departments across the United States during the past decade. But what does that 50,000-volt shock do to a person's brain?

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  • February 3, 2016
  • 03:06 PM
  • 77 views

Investigating potential fetal exposure to antidepressants

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Depression is a serious issue for expecting mothers. Left untreated, depression could have implications for a fetus’s health. But treating the disease during pregnancy may carry health risks for the developing fetus, which makes an expecting mother’s decision whether to take medication a very difficult one. To better understand how antidepressants affect fetuses during pregnancy, scientists studied exposure in mice.

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  • February 2, 2016
  • 03:03 PM
  • 88 views

Depressed or inflamed? Inflammation attacks brain’s reward center

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Inflammation is a good thing, it helps the body fight disease, and without it we wouldn't survive. Unfortunately, when inflammation isn't kept under control it can wreak havoc on the body. From potentially causing alzheimer's to arthritis it seems that unchecked inflammation can cause all sorts of issues. In fact, a new study adds to the list of issues out of control inflammation causes in the body.

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  • February 2, 2016
  • 11:53 AM
  • 69 views

Are ‘predatory’ journals completely negative, or also a sign of something positive?

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective

Something that is generally, and justifiably, considered negative, can, however, also be a harbinger of an underlying positive development. The case in point is the existence of so-called ‘predatory’ journals, which have – inevitably – emerged in an environment in which a true market for scientific publishing services is slowly taking shape. … Read More →... Read more »

Ding, X., Wellman, H., Wang, Y., Fu, G., & Lee, K. (2015) Theory-of-Mind Training Causes Honest Young Children to Lie. Psychological Science, 26(11), 1812-1821. DOI: 10.1177/0956797615604628  

  • February 1, 2016
  • 03:41 PM
  • 74 views

Blood pressure medicine may improve conversational skills of individuals with autism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

An estimated 1 in 68 children in the United States has autism. The neurodevelopmental disorder, which impairs communication and social interaction skills, can be treated with medications and behavioral therapies, though there is no cure. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that a medication commonly used to treat high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats may have the potential to improve some social functions of individuals with autism.

... Read more »

  • January 31, 2016
  • 02:57 PM
  • 134 views

The brains of patients with schizophrenia vary depending on the type of schizophrenia

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

I have a friend who lost an eye to his brother. Yes, you read that correctly, his brother tried to kill him and in the process he lost his eye. I’ve told this story before, but whenever new schizophrenia research comes out I feel the need to tell it again. While he has forgiven his brother (partly because not long after, he was diagnosed as schizophrenic), he will not be able to see him again until he is released from prison. A tragedy that could’ve been avoided had he been diagnosed sooner......... Read more »

  • January 30, 2016
  • 03:21 PM
  • 121 views

Neurological adaptations to the presence of toxic HIV protein

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Nearly half of HIV infected patients suffer from impaired neurocognitive function. The HIV protein transactivator of transcription (Tat) is an important contributor to HIV neuropathogenesis because it is a potent neurotoxin that continues to be produced despite treatment with antiretroviral therapy.

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  • January 29, 2016
  • 01:51 PM
  • 126 views

How to unlock inaccessible genes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

An international team of biologists has discovered how specialized enzymes remodel the extremely condensed genetic material in the nucleus of cells in order to control which genes can be used. It was known that the DNA in cells is wrapped around proteins in structures called nucleosomes that resemble beads on a string, which allow the genetic material to be folded and compacted into a structure called chromatin.

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de Dieuleveult, M., Yen, K., Hmitou, I., Depaux, A., Boussouar, F., Dargham, D., Jounier, S., Humbertclaude, H., Ribierre, F., Baulard, C.... (2016) Genome-wide nucleosome specificity and function of chromatin remodellers in ES cells. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature16505  

  • January 28, 2016
  • 02:36 PM
  • 123 views

It’s complicated: Benefits and toxicity of anti-prion antibodies in the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Immunotherapy to ameliorate neurodegeneration by targeting brain protein aggregates with antibodies is an area of intense investigation. A new study examines seemingly contradictory earlier results of targeting the prion protein and proposes a cautionary way forward to further test related therapeutic approaches.

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Reimann, R., Sonati, T., Hornemann, S., Herrmann, U., Arand, M., Hawke, S., & Aguzzi, A. (2016) Differential Toxicity of Antibodies to the Prion Protein. PLOS Pathogens, 12(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005401  

  • January 26, 2016
  • 03:20 PM
  • 107 views

Why you should never use the term ‘the mentally ill’

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Even subtle differences in how you refer to people with mental illness can affect levels of tolerance, a new study has found. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers found that participants showed less tolerance toward people who were referred to as "the mentally ill" when compared to those referred to as "people with mental illness."

... Read more »

  • January 25, 2016
  • 02:06 PM
  • 119 views

Scientists shed new light on workings of genetic regulation

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of scientists has uncovered greater intricacy in protein signaling than was previously understood, shedding new light on the nature of genetic production.
... Read more »

  • January 25, 2016
  • 11:52 AM
  • 130 views

Zika virus and the negligence towards health research in poor countries

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll About a year ago, almost nobody on the whole world was aware of the existence of a virus named Zika virus and the illness it may cause in humans, the Zika fever or Zika disease. But … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 24, 2016
  • 01:52 PM
  • 116 views

60 genetic disorders affect skin and nervous system

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

One of the most common genetic disorders is a condition called neurofibromatosis, which causes brown spots on the skin and benign tumors on the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the nervous system. Neurofibromatosis is one of at least 60 genetic diseases called neurocutaneous disorders that involve the skin, central nervous system, and/or peripheral nervous system.

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Figueiredo, A., Mata-Machado, N., McCoyd, M., & Biller, J. (2016) Neurocutaneous Disorders for the Practicing Neurologist: a Focused Review. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, 16(2). DOI: 10.1007/s11910-015-0612-7  

  • January 23, 2016
  • 02:26 PM
  • 148 views

When the music stops: Intensive instrument playing can lead to movement disorders

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A musician takes up his/her violin and starts to play, but rather than gripping the strings, the fingers seize up--and this happens every time he/she takes up the instrument. Such a movement disorder--the so-called focal dystonia-- is a dramatic disease for those affected, which has thus far barely been studied.

... Read more »

Rozanski VE, Rehfuess E, Bötzel K, Nowak D. (2015) Task-specific dystonia in professional musicians—a systematic review of the importance of intensive playing as a risk factor. Dtsch Arztebl Int. info:/10.3238/arztebl.2015.0871

  • January 22, 2016
  • 02:50 PM
  • 149 views

Neurons in your gut help the immune system keep inflammation in check

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The immune system exercises constant vigilance to protect the body from external threats–including what we eat and drink. A careful balancing act plays out as digested food travels through the intestine. Immune cells must remain alert to protect against harmful pathogens like Salmonella, but their activity also needs to be tempered since an overreaction can lead to too much inflammation and permanent tissue damage.

... Read more »

  • January 22, 2016
  • 10:21 AM
  • 116 views

When good intentions don't mix: designing policy to stop global warming and improve clean cookware access

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Carbon fees are a tremendous policy tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But what is their effect on other public health missions, like providing cleaner cookware to the poor in developing countries. We take a look at new research designing policy to meet both public health needs.... Read more »

  • January 21, 2016
  • 02:27 PM
  • 173 views

Anxious? Chronic stress and anxiety can damage the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A scientific review paper warns that people need to find ways to reduce chronic stress and anxiety in their lives or they may be at increased risk for developing depression and even dementia. Led by the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences, the review examined brain areas impacted by chronic anxiety, fear and stress in animal and human studies that are already published.... Read more »

Mah, L., Szabuniewicz, C., & Fiocco, A. (2016) Can anxiety damage the brain?. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 29(1), 56-63. DOI: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000223  

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