Neuroscience

A new study has identified genes involved in long-term memory in the worm as part of research aimed at finding ways to retain cognitive abilities during aging.

The study identified more than 750 genes involved in long-term memory, including many that had not been found previously and that could serve as targets for future research, said senior author Coleen Murphy, an associate professor of molecular biology and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University.


Inflammation has long a target in Alzheimer's disease studies so a new finding in Neuron is counterintuitive. In the study, researchers hace uncovered the mechanism by which anti-inflammatory processes may trigger the disease and this anti-inflammatory process might actually trigger the build-up of sticky clumps of protein that form plaques in the brain. These plaques block brain cells' ability to communicate and are a well-known characteristic of the illness.

The finding suggests that Alzheimer's treatments might need to be tailored to patients depending on which forms of Apolipoprotein E, a major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, these patients carry in their genes.


We use our hands a lot each day. Humans have highly developed fine motor skills and so we are able to perform grasping movements with variable precision and power distribution, everything from tying our shoelaces to holding a balloon.

A Western diet may be negatively affecting your brain not just your belly. Jams, CC BY-NC-SA

By Terry Davidson, American University and Camille Sample, American University

Men and women are different in lots of ways and some contend that women are more emotional and that makes a difference in others areas. A recent large-scale study focused on determining the gender-dependent relationship between emotions, memory performance and brain activity.  

The scientists found that women rate emotional images as more emotionally stimulating than men do and are more likely to remember them but there were no gender-related differences in emotional appraisal of neutral images.
Autism Spectrum Disorder, a broad range of behavioral and cognitive issues that usually impair learning ability, has been studied for many years but there remain far more questions than answers. Some research into the brain functions of individuals with autism spectrum have found a lack of synchronization ('connectivity') between different parts of the brain that normally work in tandem, while other studies have found the opposite: over-synchronization. 

According to the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction, cocaine is the second most commonly used illegal addictive in Europe, after cannabis.  A discovery related to the mechanism behind a dopamine transporter could help in the development of future medical treatment against cocaine addiction.  


As has been demonstrated, even after complete spinal paralysis the human spinal cord is able to trigger activity in the leg muscles using electrical pulses from an implanted stimulator.

Now a team of researchers has succeeded in identifying the mechanisms the spinal cord uses to control this muscle activity. These mechanisms still work even if the neural pathways from the brain are physically interrupted as the result of a spinal cord injury. It is the first time throughout the world that the spinal-cord activation patterns for walking have been decoded, say the authors of a new paper. 
Within the nervous system there is a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a site considered as the biological clock in all mammals, including humans.

A new study has found that when this nucleus is damaged or destroyed the rhythm of the biological clock is lost.

Research by René Drucker and colleagues was performed in rats because they have well-defined activities at night that have little activity during the day. When some of these rats had neuronal alterations affecting their sleep cycle we could graph the amount of activity during the day and the night. So, when there was an injury that destroyed the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the pace and the biological clock was lost, and the animal equitably distributed its activity during the day and night.
A paper in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine links circumcision in boys to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The results were drawn from part a cohort of all children born in Denmark between 1994 and 2003. During the study, over 340,000 boys were followed up to the age of nine between 1994 and 2013 and almost 5,000 cases of ASD were diagnosed. They found that regardless of cultural background circumcised boys may run a greater risk of developing ASD. The researchers also made the observation of an increased risk of hyperactivity disorder among circumcised boys in non-Muslim families.  Risk was particularly high for infantile autism before the age of five, at least in epidemiology.