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  • May 2, 2016
  • 02:45 PM
  • 19 views

Origin of synaptic pruning process linked to learning, autism and schizophrenia identified

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Vaccines don't cause autism, but because the brain is so complex, we still don't know how much of it works so figuring out the real causes (as in more than one) of autism has been slow going. Well, researchers have identified a brain receptor that appears to initiate adolescent synaptic pruning, a process believed necessary for learning, but in this case it is one that appears to go awry in both autism and schizophrenia.... Read more »

Sonia Afroz, Julie Parato, Hui Shen Sheryl, & Sue Smith. (2016) Synaptic pruning in the female hippocampus is triggered at puberty by extrasynaptic GABAA receptors on dendritic spines . eLife. info:/

  • May 2, 2016
  • 07:11 AM
  • 26 views

"Neuroscience-Based Nomenclature" for Mental Health?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Psychiatric drugs come in many kinds: there are antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, and more. But what all of these categories have in common is that they're anti- something. This is how we classify these drugs - by what they treat.

Except there's a problem - very few psychiatric drugs are only used to treat one thing. Take "antipsychotics". They're used in psychosis, but they're also a key tool in the treatment of mania, a different disorder entirely. Many of these dru... Read more »

Zohar J, Stahl S, Moller HJ, Blier P, Kupfer D, Yamawaki S, Uchida H, Spedding M, Goodwin GM, & Nutt D. (2015) A review of the current nomenclature for psychotropic agents and an introduction to the Neuroscience-based Nomenclature. European neuropsychopharmacology : the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 25(12), 2318-25. PMID: 26527055  

  • May 2, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 22 views

On defining chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Most people who know a little bit about chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) will probably understand the potential importance of the findings reported by Leonard Jason and colleagues [1] (open-access available here). Suggesting that there may be "four groupings of patients" when it comes to how we "name and define the illnesses", this research group who surveyed over 500 people "in the United States, Great Britain, and Norway" report on one of the biggest challenge........ Read more »

Jason LA, McManimen S, Sunnquist M, Brown A, Furst J, Newton JL, & Strand EB. (2016) Case definitions integrating empiric and consensus perspectives. Fatigue : biomedicine, health , 4(1), 1-23. PMID: 27088059  

  • May 1, 2016
  • 02:17 PM
  • 43 views

Influence of religion and predestination on evolution and scientific thinking

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Generally seen as antithetical to one another, evolution and religion can hardly fit in a scientific discourse simultaneously. However, in a new article, a biology researcher delves into observations on the influences a few major religions have had on evolutionists and their scientific thinking over the centuries.

... Read more »

  • April 30, 2016
  • 02:55 PM
  • 74 views

Salts in the brain control our sleep-wake cycle

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Insomnia, fun fact those of us who have served or are serving in the military have a much higher incidence of sleep problems. So if you are like me and have ever been prescribed something to help you sleep, you know that there are some unwanted side effects. For instance the time I lost memory of a whole day of interacting with people to the ambien I had taken the night before, not fun. Thankfully Danish researchers found that the level of salts in the brain plays a critical role in whether we a........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2016
  • 12:15 PM
  • 70 views

Words On The Brain: A Semantic Map of the Cortex

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

In a new Nature paper, Berkely neuroscientists Alexander G. Huth and colleagues present a 'semantic atlas' of the human brain. Huth et al. have mapped which brain areas respond to words, according to the semantics (meanings) of each word. It turns out that these maps are highly similar across individuals - which could have implications for 'mind reading' technology.



Huth et al. recorded brain activity with fMRI while seven volunteers listened to over two hours of audio narrative (taken fr... Read more »

Huth AG, de Heer WA, Griffiths TL, Theunissen FE, & Gallant JL. (2016) Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex. Nature, 532(7600), 453-8. PMID: 27121839  

  • April 30, 2016
  • 02:45 AM
  • 72 views

The 'anti-neuroinflammatory activity' of oxytocin

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Whilst the package inserts of the various drugs that modern medicine has at its disposal provides important information on potential mode of action, there is a growing realisation that drugs generally have quite a few more molecular targets than are perhaps listed. Take for example the quite commonly used (in some parts of the world anyway) compound called melatonin  that in some instances can provide almost miraculous relief when it comes to sleeping issues under certain circumstances. A d........ Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 04:10 PM
  • 71 views

Don’t retweet if you want to remember

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The whole of human intelligence, right at your fingertips. Sure it might not make the layman an engineer or physicist, but if we want to learn about a particular topic the internet can give us that information. But you better hold on tight before you lose it. New research finds retweeting or otherwise sharing information creates a “cognitive overload” that interferes with learning and retaining what you’ve just seen.

... Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 11:02 AM
  • 78 views

Bringing ‘Dirty’ Mice Into Labs Opens A World Of Possibilities

by Rita dos Santos Silva in United Academics

Treating immune disorders might have gotten easier with a new mouse model.... Read more »

  • April 29, 2016
  • 09:38 AM
  • 78 views

Hunting For The Signatures of Cancer

by EE Giorgi in CHIMERAS

Signatures of Mutational Processes Extracted from the Mutational Catalogs of 21 Breast Cancer Genomes. Credit:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2012.12.008Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths each year (Source: WHO). A family history of cancer typically increases a person's risk of developing the disease, yet most cancer cases have no family history at all. This suggests that a combination of both ge........ Read more »

Siegel, R., Miller, K., & Jemal, A. (2015) Cancer statistics, 2015. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 65(1), 5-29. DOI: 10.3322/caac.21254  

Alexandrov LB. (2015) Understanding the origins of human cancer. Science (New York, N.Y.), 350(6265), 1175. PMID: 26785464  

Alexandrov LB, Nik-Zainal S, Wedge DC, Aparicio SA, Behjati S, Biankin AV, Bignell GR, Bolli N, Borg A, Børresen-Dale AL.... (2013) Signatures of mutational processes in human cancer. Nature, 500(7463), 415-21. PMID: 23945592  

Alexandrov LB, Nik-Zainal S, Siu HC, Leung SY, & Stratton MR. (2015) A mutational signature in gastric cancer suggests therapeutic strategies. Nature communications, 8683. PMID: 26511885  

  • April 29, 2016
  • 02:33 AM
  • 77 views

Organophosphate exposure and ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children with higher urinary DMP [dimethylphosphate] concentrations may have a twofold to threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]."So said the results presented in the paper by Yu and colleagues [1] who looking at "97 doctor-diagnosed ADHD cases and 110 non-ADHD controls who were 4-15 years of age" examined urine and blood samples for various factors including "biomarkers of OP [organophosphate] pesticide exposure." Th........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2016
  • 05:33 PM
  • 84 views

MERS-CoV and antiviral singling: role of orf4b and M protein

by thelonevirologist in Virology Tidbits

Coronaviruses (CoV) are positive sense RNA viruses with a genome size of 29-32 kb with four genera (Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma- and Delta CoV) belonging to the family of the Coronaviridae within the order of Nidovirales, with the Betacoronaviruses further divided into four lineages (A-D).

Most CoV identified until now are causing severe disease only in animals including agricultural important animals such as chicken, cattle, and pigs. To date only six human CoV (HCoV) have been identified, namely ........ Read more »

Han, H., Wen, H., Zhou, C., Chen, F., Luo, L., Liu, J., & Yu, X. (2015) Bats as reservoirs of severe emerging infectious diseases. Virus Research, 1-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.virusres.2015.05.006  

Menachery VD, Yount BL Jr, Sims AC, Debbink K, Agnihothram SS, Gralinski LE, Graham RL, Scobey T, Plante JA, Royal SR.... (2016) SARS-like WIV1-CoV poised for human emergence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 26976607  

Munster, V., Adney, D., van Doremalen, N., Brown, V., Miazgowicz, K., Milne-Price, S., Bushmaker, T., Rosenke, R., Scott, D., Hawkinson, A.... (2016) Replication and shedding of MERS-CoV in Jamaican fruit bats (Artibeus jamaicensis). Scientific Reports, 21878. DOI: 10.1038/srep21878  

Thornbrough JM, Jha BK, Yount B, Goldstein SA, Li Y, Elliott R, Sims AC, Baric RS, Silverman RH, & Weiss SR. (2016) Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus NS4b Protein Inhibits Host RNase L Activation. mBio, 7(2). PMID: 27025250  

Li Y, Banerjee S, Wang Y, Goldstein SA, Dong B, Gaughan C, Silverman RH, & Weiss SR. (2016) Activation of RNase L is dependent on OAS3 expression during infection with diverse human viruses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(8), 2241-6. PMID: 26858407  

Castelli, J., Wood, K., & Youle, R. (1998) The 2-5A system in viral infection and apoptosis. Biomedicine , 52(9), 386-390. DOI: 10.1016/S0753-3322(99)80006-7  

  • April 28, 2016
  • 10:45 AM
  • 99 views

Phylo.io a new interactive way of visualising and comparing trees

by Christophe Dessimoz in Open Reading Frame

The paper introducing our new tree visualisation tool Phylo.io was just published in MBE.

Yet another tool to display trees, you might say, and indeed, so it is. But for all the tools that have been developed over the years, there are very few that scale to large trees, make it easy to compare trees side-by-side, and simply run in a browser on any computer or mobile device.

To fill this gap, we created Phylo.io.

Story behind the paper

The project started as a student summer internshi........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2016
  • 09:33 AM
  • 102 views

Breathing Bordeaux is entirely different from drinking it!

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

It was the summer of 1882, and grape farmers in the Médoc region of southwest France (north of Bordeaux, on the Atlantic coast) had a problem.Schoolchildren (or university students, or just anyone travelling the roads along which the grapevines grew, depending on what source you're reading) were pilfering their grapes. To try and ward them off, some farmers decided to dissolve some slaked lime and copper sulfate in water and spray it on their grapevines closest to the roads. The idea was... Read more »

  • April 28, 2016
  • 03:46 AM
  • 92 views

The Neural Precursors of Spontaneous Thoughts

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Back in 2013, I wondered if we would ever discover the neural basis of spontaneous thoughts. Why, I asked, do certain ideas just "pop" into our minds at particular times? Now a new paper published in Neuroimage, Canadian neuroscientists Melissa Ellamil and colleagues reports on the neural basis of spontaneous thoughts.



Ellamil et al. recruited a group of 18 volunteers, all of whom were highly experienced practitioners of mindfulness meditation. These individuals were selected, the authors... Read more »

  • April 28, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 100 views

What parents of children with autism expect from their child's therapists

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Parents ultimately wanted therapists to produce positive outcomes for their children and were willing to sacrifice other desired qualities, as long as the therapy program was effective."and"The SLPs [Speech-Language Pathologists] expressed strong support for evidence-based practice (EBP) and indicated that they thought parents expected their children would be provided with evidence-based interventions."Those quotes come from two papers recently published in the same journal; the first........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2016
  • 04:55 PM
  • 186 views

Addiction, it’s in your genes… maybe

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Why does one person who tries cocaine get addicted, while another might use it and then leave it alone? Why do some people who kick a drug habit manage to stay clean, while others relapse? And why do some families seem more prone to addiction than others? According to a new study, the road to answering these questions may have a lot to do with specific genetic factors that vary from individual to individual.

... Read more »

Flagel, S., Chaudhury, S., Waselus, M., Kelly, R., Sewani, S., Clinton, S., Thompson, R., Watson, S., & Akil, H. (2016) Genetic background and epigenetic modifications in the core of the nucleus accumbens predict addiction-like behavior in a rat model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201520491. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1520491113  

  • April 27, 2016
  • 02:23 PM
  • 86 views

Rafting Ants Have Designated Stations

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Sometimes at the climax of a Star Trek episode, the captain would yell out "Battle stations!" and send the crew scurrying frantically through the corridors. It wasn't really clear what those battle stations were. Presumably, crew members headed to posts they'd been previously assigned, and this let the whole ship react to the crisis efficiently.

Certain ants respond to a crisis by binding their bodies together into floating rafts. And like the Star Trek crew, they seem to have designat........ Read more »

  • April 27, 2016
  • 09:39 AM
  • 78 views

Video Tip of the Week: SoyBase CMap

by Mary in OpenHelix

Over the years I’ve started to follow a lot of farmers on twitter. It might sound odd to folks who are immersed in human genomics and disease. But I actually find the plant and animal genomics communities to be pushing tech faster and further to the hands of end-users than a lot of the clinical […]... Read more »

Grant, D., Nelson, R., Cannon, S., & Shoemaker, R. (2009) SoyBase, the USDA-ARS soybean genetics and genomics database. Nucleic Acids Research, 38(Database). DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkp798  

  • April 27, 2016
  • 08:35 AM
  • 80 views

Your Body Has A Photographic Memory

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

For the first time anywhere - an easy explanation of your immune system in 1500 words! For the low, low price of zero dollars you can find out how your body protects you better the second time you are exposed to a disease. Special bonus offer – we’ll throw in how vaccines work and why you need one every year for the flu, although your old flu vaccines might still be helping you. ... Read more »

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