Neuroscience

The Open Source movement has been an integral part of software development for many years now, and it is starting to explode into the science world. The latest project might even transform brain science communication and understanding to a new level as the new Whole Brain Catalog is now available for anyone to access.
Some people can sleep through a Who concert while others wake up if a mouse in the yard moves.   A new report in Current Biology says the difference is that sound sleepers show a distinct pattern of spontaneous brain rhythms.

During sleep, brain waves become slow and organized and the thalamus, a way station for all types of sensory information except smell, spontaneously engages with the cortex. This interaction can produce transient fluctuations of the brain's electric field visible on the EEG as rhythmic spindles - brief bursts of faster-frequency waves. 
Stained motor neuron from human spinal cord; Courtesy Wikimedia CommonsHistorically, the medical approach to curing the incurable effects of tragic spinal cord injuries--such as the case made famous by America's classic super hero, Christopher Reeve--has been to affect regeneration of damaged nerves through stem cell therapy or by introducing growth factor proteins, like <
A pig's 'mood' can show us how content he is, say researchers at Newcastle's School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.

Led by Dr Catherine Douglas, the team has employed a technique to 'ask' pigs if they are feeling optimistic or pessimistic about life as a result of the way in which they live and their results say that pigs are capable of complex emotions which are directly influenced by their living conditions.

The Newcastle team taught the pigs to associate a note on a glockenspiel with a treat (an apple) and a dog training 'clicker' with something unpleasant – rustling a plastic bag.
Almost 30 years ago philosopher James Flynn discovered that IQ scores were increasing in every industrialized country around the globe. But before we pat ourselves on back, Bronson and Merryman warn us that we may be in the midst of a Creativity Crisis. Although IQ scores continue to climb, creativity scores, at least as measured on the Torrance Test of Creativity are dropping through the floor. 

After reviewing the scores of 300,000 children using the Torrance Test of Creativity, Kyung-Hee Kim of the College of William and Mary saw a steep decline in scores from kindergarteners to 6th graders.


The basal ganglia is a series of highly connected brain areas localised deep in the cerebral cortex that recently has attracted interest of neuroscientists when it was linked to learning, and discovered to be affected in a number of disorders of the addictive and obsessive spectrum, but also in Parkinson’s disease (PD). And now researchers think they have understood why as they found that neurons in this area signal the beginning and the end of voluntary actions.

You may have noticed that a lot of posts about neuroscience research on scientificblogging.com describe new discoveries about the synapse.  If you are not a neuroscientists you might wonder why we get so fired up about the synapse (pun intended). 

Well the answer is simple -- understanding how synapses function is the most important question in the field of neuroscience research.  And we are getting close to the answer.
 
For me what's so cool about the synapse is that they are constantly changing.

But I want to know what you think -- why do you think the synapse is a cool thing to study?  If you could ask a neuroscientists about their synapse research what would you want to know?
"My plan for today:

1. Pick up dry cleaning.
2. Go to dentist.
3. Think up brilliant idea.”

Good luck with that third bullet. Big ideas can’t be planned like growing tomatoes in one’s garden. We stumble upon ideas, and although we can sometimes recall how we got there, we could not have anticipated the discovery in advance. That’s why grant proposals never wrap up as, “And via following this four-part plan, I will have arrived at a ground-breaking new hypothesis by year three.” 
Brain stem cells remain dormant until needed to make more neurons but little is known about the molecular guards that keep them quiet - or 'wake' them up.  

Scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies say they have identified the signal that prevents stem cells from doing too much proliferating, a move that protects the brain against too much cell division and ensuring a pool of neural stem cells that lasts a lifetime. 
Neural circuitry is constantly changing to meet the challenges of its environment and ahead of his presentation on July 6th, sponsored by The Kavli Foundation , at the 7th FENS Forum of European Neuroscience in Amsterdam,  Tobias Bonhoeffer, director at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, Germany, offers insight into how new techniques enable researchers to watch this process of adaptation as never before.

What happens to our brains as we experience the outside world? Scientists have learned that the brain undergoes structural changes as it absorbs sensory data, learns and adapts, but the actual mechanism of this process is just now coming into view.