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Neuroscience

Science

Scientists put window in fruit fly skull to watch its brain

How do you see what's going on in a fruit fly's mind? Why you build a window to its brain, of course. While that might sound like a bad joke, it's exactly what scientists at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have just done. Their goal was to understand exactly what happens in the tiny creature's brain as it goes about courting a mate, unencumbered by wires or other attachments usually used to monitor its neural activity. The system they created is called "Flyception" and is amazingly complex and precise.Read More

Science

Scientists use laser to "weld" neurons together

Whether it's as a research tool or a step in repairing severed nerves, the ability to join neurons together has some serious applications. If left to occur naturally, the process takes several hours, limiting its practicality. Now, however, scientists at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Engineering have developed a method of doing so within 15 milliseconds.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

The wistful sigh is really a survival mechanism

A sigh may do more for your health than provide emotional relief. Researchers in California claim to have identified the source of the sigh in the brain, which they say is a life-sustaining reflex for healthy lung functioning. Humans sigh around 12 times per hour to reinflate the half-billion or so tiny, balloon-like sacs in the lungs called alveoli, which are vital in regulating the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide. A sigh is mostly an involuntary deep breath, or a regular breath with another added on top before an exhale.Read More

Biology

DARPA looks to revolutionize neural interface implants

DARPA has announced a program aimed at developing a cutting edge neural implant capable of forming a communication bridge between a human brain and electronic devices. It is hoped that technology developed under the Neural Engineering System Design program will have a wide range of applications in research and healthcare.Read More

Medical

Boosting brain molecule points to treatment for autism and other neurological disorders

Rett Syndrome is a rare but severe neurological disorder that causes autism-like behavior in young females. It has long been known that behind the condition is a genetic mutation, and researchers are now claiming to have found an absent molecule that facilitates regular nerve cell function and development in healthy brains. Armed with a drug that can repair this missing link, the scientists are hopeful their work can lead to effective treatments for not only Rett Syndrome, but various forms of autism-spectrum disorders as well.Read More

Biology

Sending rats to sleep sheds light on brain circuitry

A team of researchers at Stanford University has demonstrated the ability to manipulate states of consciousness by altering brain activity. By changing the firing rates of neurons in the central thalamus, scientists have been able to wake rats and/or send them back to sleep. This latest study on the brain's circuitry may help to develop new and effective methods to treat brain injuries and other neurological disorders.Read More

Biology

Fluorescent molecules let neuroscientists peer into the mind of a fruit fly

By modifying genes to light up in one of three fluorescent colors during neural signaling, neuroscientists at Northwestern University have managed to (retrospectively) read the minds of fruit flies up to three hours after an event. This new technique could help in efforts to map the circuits within fruit fly brains, and that in turn might provide insights into the workings of the human brain.Read More

Biology Feature

Can we build a complete wiring diagram of the human brain?

Our brains are wondrous, incredible machines. They're slower than the earliest personal computers in terms of raw processing power, yet capable of leaps of intuition and able to store a lifetime of memories that are cross-referenced and instantly-accessible at the slightest prompting. We know so very little about how they do these things, however. But imagine for a moment if we could build a complete wiring diagram of a human brain – to map in detail every one of the hundred trillion or so synapses and roughly hundred billion neurons together with all the tiniest supporting mechanisms. What might that mean, and would it even be possible?Read More

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