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Brain

By enabling the rigid brains of adult mice to return to the high levels of plasticity found in juvenile brains, scientists are opening new pathways to the treatment of brain injuries such as stroke. Back in 2013, researchers from Yale University reported the discovery of a molecular switch that achieved this result, and now scientists at the University of California, Irvine, have managed to make an old brain young again using a different approach.

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Using a matrix of nano-sized memristors, researchers working at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and the University of California, Santa Barbara claim to have constructed the world’s first electronic memory cell that effectively mimics the analog process of the human brain. By storing memories as multiple threads of varying information, rather than a collection of ones and zeroes, scientists believe that this device may prove to be the first step towards creating a completely artificial, bionic brain.

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Hunger pains are the bane of any dieter's existence, kicking in even when skipping a single meal and goading the sufferer to indulge their desire for food. Controlling hunger is now better understood as neuroscientists tease apart why we (well, our model mouse cousins) feel hunger. Mind-bendingly, the same researchers have used genetic therapies to create feelings of satiety where none would otherwise exist. Read More
A promising new treatment for epilepsy directly targets the nerve cells, deep within the brain, that cause seizures. The treatment uses an electronic micropump and an anticonvulsant drug to inhibit the relevant areas of the brain without affecting healthy brain regions. It has had promising initial results on mice in vitro and will now be tested on live animals. Read More
Yoga practitioners know firsthand the physical and mental benefits the activity produces, as meditation is often embedded in yoga sessions. Now, yogis have got science to back their claims of well-being and focus, as new research shows more clearly how yoga-induced mindfulness has an impact on pain perception. Read More
Scientists have been working since 2008 to develop technology based on memristors (short for memory resistors), which promise computers that need never boot up and function more akin to the human brain – like neurons, they can retain information and perform logic operations. Now scientists at Northwestern University have made a new breakthrough that may make possible brain-like computing capabilities. Read More
The blood-brain barrier is a highly selective semipermeable barrier running inside almost all vessels in the brain that lets through water, some gases and a few other select molecules, while preventing potentially toxic elements in the blood from entering the brain. Researchers from the University of Montreal, Polytechnique Montréal, and CHU Sainte-Justine say that currently 98 percent of therapeutic molecules are also blocked by the barrier, but they have developed a technique using magnetic nanoparticles that opens the door for such molecules, thereby also opening the door to new treatments for brain diseases. Read More
Researchers at the University of Southampton and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have found that fiber optics can be used to build low-power, high-bandwidth artificial neurons that mimic their biological counterparts. Used inside a properly designed chip, this technology could lead to computers that think and learn like a human. Read More
The emergence of consumer electroencephalography (EEG) devices is giving us new ways to monitor and train our brains. One such device is the Melomind, which promises to help users better manage stress. To do so, it delivers 15-minute sessions of specially designed music. Read More
Alzheimer's disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that most often begins in people over 65 years of age. Usually it starts slowly and continues to worsen over time until the sufferer succumbs to an increasing loss of memory, bodily functions and, eventually, death. Research has shown that there is an association with Alzheimer's and the accumulation of plaques that affect the neuronal connections in the brain. Now researchers at the University of Queensland have discovered a new way to remove these toxic plaques using a non-invasive form of ultrasound therapy. Read More
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