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Ratings of our own abilities are strongly influenced by the performance of others, according to a study published July 20 in Neuron. Interacting with high performers makes us feel more capable in cooperative team settings, but less competent in competitive situations. Moreover, the degree of "self-other-mergence" is associated with activity in a brain region previously implicated in theory of mind--the ability to understand the mental states of oneself and others.

People with a variant copy of the TREM2 gene have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, but researchers are only beginning to understand why.

A Genentech study has uncovered details of how a type of immune cell helps the brain get rid of the tiny amyloid-beta aggregates that can clump together to form the plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's. The researchers, reporting July 20 in Neuron, found that TREM2 mutations can derail the immune cell's plaque-clearing activity, as can two other genes already known to increase a person's risk for Alzheimer's: APOE and APOJ (known as clusterin).

"I think we're only scratching the surface of what TREM2 does," said Morgan Sheng, a senior author of the paper and Vice-President of Neuroscience at Genentech.

Scampering across the salt pans of Tunisia on their spindly legs, desert ants (Cataglyphis fortis) have a single-minded mission: locate food and get it back to the nest. Normally, individual raiders bear a tasty morsel in their mandibles and navigate home along the most direct return route, regardless of how tortuous the outbound journey was. However, their determination is often tested to the extreme when the robust animals stumble upon a particularly large piece of food - such as a dead spider or locust. Undaunted, the scavenger simply drags the feast backwards: 'They are really awesome', chuckles Matthias Wittlinger from the University of Ulm, Germany. However, how do the insects navigate while reversing? 'All the cues are from the other direction', says Wittlinger.

Patients suffering from liver cirrhosis often die of life-threatening bacterial infections. In these patients the immune cells are unable to eliminate the bacterial infections. Scientist at the University of Bonn and TU Munich have now discovered that type I IFN released by immune cells due to increased migration of gut bacteria into the cirrhotic liver incapacitate the immune system. Based on their findings, such life-threatening infections can be contained by strengthening the immune response alone -- without antibiotics. The results have now appeared in the journal Gut.

Philadelphia, PA, July 19, 2016 - A new report in Biological Psychiatry reports that brain alterations in infants at risk for autism may be widespread and affect multiple systems, in contrast to the widely held assumption of impairment specifically in social brain networks.

Autism is diagnosed based on impairments in social and communication behaviors. These symptoms tend to emerge in the second year of life, but identifying abnormalities in early infancy could help researchers understand how autism develops and potentially allow clinicians to predict the disorder before it emerges.

The number of new cases of men suffering from metastatic prostate cancer has risen significantly in a decade's time, and is 72 percent greater in the year 2013 compared to 2004. This increase is especially worrying among men aged between 55 and 69 years old - the age group thought to benefit most from prostate cancer screening and early definitive treatment. These are some of the findings of a study published in Springer Nature's journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases. According to authors Adam Weiner and Edward Schaeffer of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the US, the research highlights a continued need to refine prostate cancer screening and treatment in the United States.