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Neuroscience

— Biology

Putting a price tag on brainpower

If you offer someone "a penny for their thoughts," how good a deal might you be getting? A study conducted at the University of Leicester has sought to shed some light on the value of our brainpower, finding a single penny to be worth to precisely three hours, seven minutes and 30 seconds worth of thinking.

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— Health & Wellbeing

New therapy to help addicts put memories of meth use behind them

Even after a lengthy period of abstinence, putting lingering memories of methamphetamine use to rest is a difficult and often impossible task for former users. Therapies are available to help people stay clean, but for many the lure remains irresistible with incredibly high relapse rates of more than 90 percent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But a research team is hoping to help addicts stay away from the devastating drug for good by developing a way to safely erase drug-associated memories.

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— Biology

Imaging tool lets scientists look inside brain at nanoscale resolution

The human brain contains more synapses than there are galaxies in the observable universe (to put a number on it, there are perhaps 100 trillion synapses versus 100 billion galaxies), and now scientists can see them all – individually. A new imaging tool promises to open the door to all sorts of new insights about the brain and how it works. The tool can generate images at a nanoscale resolution, which is small enough to see all cellular objects and many of their sub-cellular components (so for the biology-literate, that's stuff like neurons and the synapses that permit them to fire, plus axons, dendrites, glia, mitochondria, blood vessel cells, and so on).

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— Medical

Implantable device hits targeted brain cells with light and drugs when triggered remotely

The field of optogenetics where individual brains cells are made to behave differently when exposed to light has wide-ranging potential. It may one day be used to reverse acquired blindness, alter pain thresholds and even hit the rest button on our biological clocks. With one eye on this emerging area of neuroscience, scientists have developed a device the width of a human hair that can be planted in the brain to deliver light or drugs only where needed, offering better targeted treatments and reduced side effects.

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— Biology

Sensor to detect Earth’s magnetic field discovered in an animal for very first time

It has been a long-held belief in scientific circles that many creatures navigate across land, through water, and through the skies using the Earth’s magnetic field for guidance. Now scientists and engineers working at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) have finally discovered the organic mechanism responsible for this in an animal. Looking just like a microscopic TV antenna, the structure has been found in the brain of a tiny roundworm that uses it to work out which way to burrow through the soil. This breakthrough may help scientists discover how other species with internal compasses use the magnetic field of our planet to pilot their course.

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— Biology

The Hunger Pains: Mice genetically engineered to not feel them

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
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