Neuroscience

Myelin, the electrical insulating material long believed to be essential for the fast transmission of impulses along the axons of nerve cells, is not as ubiquitous as thought, according to a new paper that turns 160 years of neuroscience on its head.


Children with Tourette syndrome may unconsciously train their brain to more effectively control their tics.

How so? A recent study found that teenagers diagnosed with  Tourette syndrome   were slower than typical peers when asked to perform a task that involved them simply moving their eyes to look at targets but buterr when the task was more demanding and required them to choose between looking at or away from targets. They were as fast as their peers but made fewer eye movements in the wrong direction.

People who are deaf and those with hearing differ in brain anatomy, no surprise in that.

But studies of individuals who are deaf and use American Sign Language (ASL) from birth aren't telling the whole science story. 95 percent of the deaf population in America is born to hearing parents and use English or another spoken language as their first language, usually through lip-reading.

Since both language and audition are housed in nearby locations in the brain, understanding which differences are attributed to hearing and which to language is critical in understanding the mechanisms by which experience shapes the brain. 


Women who carry a copy of a gene variant called ApoE4 have substantially greater risk for Alzheimer's disease than men,according to an analysis of data on large numbers of older individuals who were tracked over time and noting whether they had progressed from good health to mild cognitive impairment — from which most move on to develop Alzheimer's disease within a few years — or to Alzheimer's disease itself.


Researchers from the UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute believe they have uncovered a new aspect of autism - that proteins involved in autism interact with many more partners than previously known.

These interactions had not been detected earlier because they involve alternatively spliced forms of autism genes found in the brain. 

In their study, the scientists isolated hundreds of new variants of autism genes from the human brain, and then screened their protein products against thousands of other proteins to identify interacting partners. Proteins produced by alternatively-spliced autism genes and their many partners formed a biological network that produced an unprecedented view of how autism genes are connected. 


Humans are unique in their ability to acquire language. But how? A new study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences shows that we are in fact born with the basic fundamental knowledge of language, thus shedding light on the age-old linguistic "nature vs. nurture" debate.

While languages differ from each other in many ways, certain aspects appear to be shared across languages. These aspects might stem from linguistic principles that are active in all human brains. A natural question then arises: are infants born with knowledge of how the human words might sound like? Are infants biased to consider certain sound sequences as more word-like than others?


BLA, ShBA, LBA


Researchers writing in Cell Communication and Signaling say that abnormal levels of lipid molecules in the brain can affect the interaction between two key neural pathways in early prenatal brain development, which can trigger autism.

Environmental causes such as exposure to chemicals in some cosmetics and common over-the-counter medication can affect the levels of these lipids, according to the researchers.


Since the discovery of microRNAs, these small ribonucleotides have been implicated in a broad range of cellular processes1.  MicroRNAs typically work as inhibitory gate-keepers to keep the expression of numerous genes in check1.

Memory loss is a debilitating consequence of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), an incurable condition contributing to a progressive loss of cognitive function. But what is the cause of memory loss in AD?  Previous work reveals that memory is encoded by molecular and structural changes in synaptic connections between neurons.  

Pine cone or pine nut? Friend or foe? Distinguishing between the two requires that we pay special attention to the telltale characteristics of each. Psychologists call it selective attention. We hone in on visual information that is new or important and dismissing what is not.

As it turns out, us humans aren't the only ones up to the task. Pigeons share our ability to place everyday things in categories and focus on what is relevant.