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  • October 31, 2014
  • 04:05 PM
  • 15 views

New Genetic Editing Technique Offers Novel Treatment of Defects

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

The promises of genetic modifications are endless, longer life, better health, cures for genetic based diseases that would otherwise cause an unimaginable amount of suffering all wiped out. We’ve come a long way in genetic alteration thanks, in part, to the ever faster moving pace of science. While genetic modification is the thing of horror movies, it also can change the world in ways we cannot even imagine — unfortunately getting genome-editing proteins into cells, where they need to be t........ Read more »

  • October 31, 2014
  • 11:48 AM
  • 22 views

Halloween Special: The Drosophila Halloween Genes

by Bethany Christmann in Fly on the Wall

In the movies, spooks and phantoms are often undead humans with unfinished business. But would you be afraid of a ghostly fruit fly? In 1995, fruit fly researchers Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Eric Wieschaus were awarded a Nobel Prize for their research on development. They were interested in understanding how a fertilized egg develops into a complex […]... Read more »

  • October 31, 2014
  • 11:15 AM
  • 23 views

Canonical circuits in neuroscience

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Gary Marcus, Adam Marblestone, and Thomas Dean have a nice perspective piece in Science this week on the atoms of neural computation (gated): One hypothesis is that cortical neurons form a single, massively repeated “canonical” circuit, characterized as a kind of a … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 31, 2014
  • 06:37 AM
  • 26 views

Mind Blowing Brain Cases: The Man With A Hole In His Head

by Elisabeth Buhl Thubron in United Academics

In this series neuroscientist Elisabeth Buhl Thubron takes a closer look at intriguing brain cases that revolutionised the field. Part I: The Man With A Whole In His Head... Read more »

Harlow JM. (1999) Passage of an iron rod through the head. 1848. The Journal of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 11(2), 281-3. PMID: 10334003  

Ratiu P, Talos IF, Haker S, Lieberman D, & Everett P. (2004) The tale of Phineas Gage, digitally remastered. Journal of neurotrauma, 21(5), 637-43. PMID: 15165371  

Van Horn JD, Irimia A, Torgerson CM, Chambers MC, Kikinis R, & Toga AW. (2012) Mapping connectivity damage in the case of Phineas Gage. PloS one, 7(5). PMID: 22616011  

  • October 30, 2014
  • 03:45 PM
  • 42 views

Zombies: Science Fiction vs. Fact

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Well in the spirit of Halloween I thought I would make a nice little zombie post. Zombies, those brain loving little guys, [and girls] are everywhere. From shows like The Walking […]... Read more »

Lafferty KD. (2006) Can the common brain parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, influence human culture?. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 273(1602), 2749-55. PMID: 17015323  

Vyas A, Kim SK, Giacomini N, Boothroyd JC, & Sapolsky RM. (2007) Behavioral changes induced by Toxoplasma infection of rodents are highly specific to aversion of cat odors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(15), 6442-7. PMID: 17404235  

Thomas, F., Schmidt-Rhaesa, A., Martin, G., Manu, C., Durand, P., & Renaud, F. (2002) Do hairworms (Nematomorpha) manipulate the water seeking behaviour of their terrestrial hosts?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 15(3), 356-361. DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2002.00410.x  

W. Wesołowska T. Wesołowski. (2014) Do Leucochloridium sporocysts manipulate the behaviour of their snail hosts?. Journal of Zoology , 292(3), 151-155. info:/10.1111/jzo.12094

  • October 30, 2014
  • 11:20 AM
  • 35 views

Alcoholism as a Reward System Dysfunction

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Alcoholism and other addictive behaviors often occur together within individual patients.For example, individuals with alcoholism commonly also are smokers and meet criteria for a diagnosis of nicotine dependence.This co-occurrence suggests multiple types of addiction may share genetic and environmental risk factors. Additionally, there might be a common neurobiological mechanism in play for many addictions.Kenneth Blum and other leading alcoholism researchers recently published a review that pr........ Read more »

  • October 30, 2014
  • 02:30 AM
  • 21 views

Horror paradox

by Donders in Donders Wonders

Halloween is een feest dat in Nederland steeds populairder lijkt te worden. Deze tijd van het jaar komen er altijd veel horrorfilms uit waar we ons graag bang door laten maken. Maar is dat niet een beetje gek? Bang zijn is toch helemaal niet leuk? Wat vertelt de wetenschap ons over deze paradox? Afbeelding door […]... Read more »

Linda de Voogd. (2014) Horror paradox. Donders Wonders. info:other/

  • October 29, 2014
  • 03:19 PM
  • 52 views

More Genetic Links Behind Autism

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Vaccines do NOT cause autism. One more time, vaccines DO NOT cause autism. So what does cause autism, that problem has been plaguing scientists for awhile now. Thankfully two major genetic studies of autism and involving more than 50 laboratories worldwide, have newly implicated dozens of genes in the disorder. The research shows that rare mutations in these genes affect communication networks in the brain and compromise fundamental biological mechanisms that govern whether, when, and how genes ........ Read more »

Iossifov, I., O’Roak, B., Sanders, S., Ronemus, M., Krumm, N., Levy, D., Stessman, H., Witherspoon, K., Vives, L., Patterson, K.... (2014) The contribution of de novo coding mutations to autism spectrum disorder. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature13908  

De Rubeis, S., He, X., Goldberg, A., Poultney, C., Samocha, K., Ercument Cicek, A., Kou, Y., Liu, L., Fromer, M., Walker, S.... (2014) Synaptic, transcriptional and chromatin genes disrupted in autism. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature13772  

  • October 28, 2014
  • 11:59 AM
  • 61 views

Night Owls Show Increased Alcohol Use Risk

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Humans commonly display a circadian rhythm preference for getting up early in the morning or staying up late at night (night owls).This sleep timing, or diurnal preference appears to have genetic contributions.Additionally, diurnal preference may contribute to risk for alcohol consumption as more alcohol is consumed later in the day and during the night time.Nathaniel Watson and colleagues at the University of Washington and the University of Texas recently explored the relationship between diur........ Read more »

Watson NF, Buchwald D, & Harden KP. (2013) A twin study of genetic influences on diurnal preference and risk for alcohol use outcomes. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 9(12), 1333-9. PMID: 24340296  

  • October 27, 2014
  • 03:40 PM
  • 76 views

Real Zombie-Making Parasites Among Us

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The mummified cat and the rat in the crypt of Christ Church in Dublin. Photo by Adrian Grycuk at Wikimedia Commons.The Happening, M. Night Shyamalan’s worst panned movie of all time, is a science fiction thriller about people going into a mysterious trance and committing suicide as a result of other mind-hacking species. One of the leading criticisms raised against this movie is the ridiculousness of the premise. One species can’t cause another to willingly commit suicide! …Or can they? T........ Read more »

  • October 27, 2014
  • 03:37 PM
  • 60 views

Research Shows Synapses are Always Ready to Go

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

The inner workings of the brain are quick, but really they have to be. Neurons need to be able to rapidly propagate information in their interior via electrical signals and they communicate with each other at special contact points known as the synapses. These chemical messenger substances (known as neurotransmitters) are stored in vesicles at the synapses. When a synapse becomes active, some of these vesicles fuse with the cell membrane and release their contents. To ensure that valuable time i........ Read more »

Imig, C., Min, S., Krinner, S., Arancillo, M., Rosenmund, C., Südhof, T., Rhee, J., Brose, N., & Cooper, B. (2014) The Morphological and Molecular Nature of Synaptic Vesicle Priming at Presynaptic Active Zones. Neuron, 84(2), 416-431. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.10.009  

  • October 27, 2014
  • 11:10 AM
  • 74 views

Brain Imaging In Alcoholic Brain Thiamine Deficiency

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Chronic consumption of large quantities of alcohol can produce severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1).This can precipitate an acute brain failure known as Wernicke's encephalopathy. Wernicke's encephalopathy is characterized by sudden onset of mental status changes, eye muscle impairment and disturbed gait or ataxia.Other illnesses can also produce this level of severe thiamine deficiency. A partial list of these non-alcoholism causes for thiamine deficiency with encephalopathy includes........ Read more »

  • October 26, 2014
  • 10:18 PM
  • 87 views

Using neuroimaging to expose the unconscious influences of priming

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

In 1996, a group of researchers at NYU conducted an interesting experiment. First, they had NYU students work on unscrambling letters to form words. Unbeknownst to the students, they had been split up into three groups, and each group unscrambled letters that formed slightly different words. One group unscrambled words with a "rude" connotation like aggressively, bold, and interrupt. Another group unscrambled "polite" words like considerate, patiently, and respect. And the third group unscramble........ Read more »

Schacter, D., Wig, G., & Stevens, W. (2007) Reductions in cortical activity during priming. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 17(2), 171-176. DOI: 10.1016/j.conb.2007.02.001  

  • October 25, 2014
  • 09:58 PM
  • 89 views

Fright Week: The Waking Nightmare of Lord Voldemort

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Nightmares can seem very real at times, but then we wake up and realize it was all a bad dream. Now imagine having a vivid nightmare with all the reality of waking life and then... it turns out you're actually awake through it all!This happened to an 11 year old Italian boy who reported frightening auditory and visual hallucinations of Voldemort, the archenemy of Harry Potter, for three straight days. These hallucinations began after a bout of sore throat and fever (38°C).  As Vita et........ Read more »

Vita MG, Batocchi AP, Dittoni S, Losurdo A, Cianfoni A, Stefanini MC, Vollono C, Della Marca G, & Mariotti P. (2008) Visual hallucinations and pontine demyelination in a child: possible REM dissociation?. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 4(6), 588-90. PMID: 19110890  

  • October 24, 2014
  • 05:20 PM
  • 79 views

The Genetics of Congenital Heart Defects Slowly Emerge from Down Syndrome Study

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Down syndrome, of all the genetic defects people are born with, is the most common (as far as chromosomal abnormalities go). Down syndrome involves having a third copy of all or part of chromosome 21 (for those who do not recall we are typically born with 23 pairs of chromosomes). In addition to intellectual disability, individuals with Down syndrome have a high risk of congenital heart defects. However, not all people with Down syndrome have them – about half have structurally normal hearts.... Read more »

Ramachandran D, Mulle JG, Locke AE, Bean LJ, Rosser TC, Bose P, Dooley KJ, Cua CL, Capone GT, Reeves RH.... (2014) Contribution of copy-number variation to Down syndrome-associated atrioventricular septal defects. Genetics in medicine : official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics. PMID: 25341113  

  • October 24, 2014
  • 11:29 AM
  • 78 views

Breaking Research: WIDE AWAKE is a newly identified gene that explains how we become sleepy at night

by Bethany Christmann in Fly on the Wall

The body’s biological clock is responsible for keeping track of time and synchronizing behavior with the environment, so that you feel alert during daylight hours and sleepy at night. This biological clock (also called the circadian clock or circadian rhythms) consists of three major parts: The central pacemaker, which oscillates with a period of about […]... Read more »

Liu Sha, Qili Liu, Masashi Tabuchi, Yong Yang, Melissa Fowler, Rajnish Bharadwaj, Julia Zhang, Joseph Bedont, Seth Blackshaw, & Thomas E. Lloyd. (2014) WIDE AWAKE Mediates the Circadian Timing of Sleep Onset. Neuron, 82(1), 151-166. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2014.01.040  

  • October 23, 2014
  • 10:20 AM
  • 91 views

Smartphone App Boosts Alcoholism Treatment Outcome

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Smartphone apps and other mobile technology are emerging as promising tools in medical treatment.A recent randomized study published in JAMA Psychiatry found evidence that a smartphone app improves alcoholism treatment outcomes.David Gustafson and colleagues conducted a study funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.A series of 349 adults with DSM-IV alcohol dependence were enrolled as they entered a alcoholism residential treatment program.Approximately half of the subje........ Read more »

Gustafson DH, McTavish FM, Chih MY, Atwood AK, Johnson RA, Boyle MG, Levy MS, Driscoll H, Chisholm SM, Dillenburg L.... (2014) A smartphone application to support recovery from alcoholism: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA psychiatry, 71(5), 566-72. PMID: 24671165  

  • October 23, 2014
  • 09:05 AM
  • 92 views

The Monster Mash – Diseases That May Have Spawned Monster Legends

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

Creepy diseases that produce symptoms that mimic characteristics associated with legendary monsters!... Read more »

Schulenburg-Brand D, Katugampola R, Anstey AV, & Badminton MN. (2014) The cutaneous porphyrias. Dermatologic clinics, 32(3), 369. PMID: 24891059  

Deshmukh S, & Prashanth S. (2012) Ectodermal dysplasia: a genetic review. International journal of clinical pediatric dentistry, 5(3), 197-202. PMID: 25206167  

Ramirez-Bermudez J, Aguilar-Venegas LC, Crail-Melendez D, Espinola-Nadurille M, Nente F, & Mendez MF. (2010) Cotard syndrome in neurological and psychiatric patients. The Journal of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 22(4), 409-16. PMID: 21037126  

  • October 22, 2014
  • 03:55 PM
  • 90 views

Converting Skin Cells to Neurons: A Fight Against Huntington’s

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Neurological diseases are some of the hardest to fight against (in my opinion). The big reason is the brain, we still know so little about it and treatment for anything effecting it can be difficult to say the least. Take Huntington’s disease, an ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disorder. There is no cure and no real treatment, but that might change relatively soon thanks to a new discovery.... Read more »

Victor, M., Richner, M., Hermanstyne, T., Ransdell, J., Sobieski, C., Deng, P., Klyachko, V., Nerbonne, J., & Yoo, A. (2014) Generation of Human Striatal Neurons by MicroRNA-Dependent Direct Conversion of Fibroblasts. Neuron, 84(2), 311-323. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.10.016  

  • October 21, 2014
  • 11:25 AM
  • 91 views

Sleep Problems in Alcoholism Treatment

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In a previous post, I summarized a research study six month outcome of insomnia in a group of subjects treated for alcoholism.This study found a high persistence of insomnia despite reduction, and in many cases abstinence, from alcohol.A second study recently published by investigators at the National Institute of Health provides some additional insight into this topic.Gwenyth Wallen and colleagues studied a series of 164 participants admitted to a 4-6 week inpatient program for alcohol dependen........ Read more »

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