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Researchers at Harvard School of Medicine and the University at Buffalo have discovered a sleep-promoting circuit located deep in the primitive brainstem, only the second "sleep node" identified in the mammalian brain whose activity appears to be both necessary and sufficient to produce deep sleep. 

Writing in Nature Neuroscience, the study demonstrates that fully half of all of the brain's sleep-promoting activity originates from the parafacial zone (PZ) in the brainstem. The brainstem is a primordial part of the brain that regulates basic functions necessary for survival, such as breathing, blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature.


A new paper believes it can measure the precision with which people make decisions - by pupil size before they are presented with any information.

Spontaneous, moment-to-moment fluctuations in pupil size predicted how a selection of participants varied in their successful decision making. A larger pupil size indicated poorer upcoming task performance, due to more variability in the decisions made once the relevant information was presented. The authors also found that certain individuals who had the largest pupils overall also tended to be the least consistent in their decisions.

Investigators have announced discovery of a new molecule, the first of its kind, which allows for the multiplication of stem cells in a unit of cord blood. Umbilical cord blood contains adult stem cells used for transplants aimed at curing a number of blood-related diseases, including leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma.

For many patients this therapy comprises a treatment of last resort. 

Even a single dose of  the commonly prescribed antidepressant SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitor) is enough to produce dramatic changes in the functional architecture of the human brain. Brain scans taken of people before and after an acute dose of SSRI reveal changes in connectivity within three hours, according to results in Current Biology.