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Archive for the ‘neuroscience’ Category

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A three-dimensional, reconstructed magnetic resonance image (upper) shows a cavity caused by a spinal injury nearly filled with grafted neural stem cells, colored green. The lower image depicts neuronal outgrowth from transplanted human neurons (green) and development of putative contacts (yellow dots) with host neurons (blue).

A new study has found that a single injection of human neural stem cells produced neuronal regeneration and improvement of function and mobility in rats impaired by an acute spinal cord injury (SCI).
The human stem cells appeared to vigorously take root at the injury site and produced an array of therapeutic benefits.

A 3-D, reconstructed MRI (upper image) shows a cavity caused by a spinal injury nearly filled with grafted neural stem cells (green). The lower image depicts neuronal outgrowth from transplanted human neurons (green) and development of putative contacts (yellow dots) with host neurons (blue).

Read more: http://bit.ly/16mQaOH
Image credit: UC San Diego School of Medicine
Journal article: Amelioration of motor/sensory dysfunction and spasticity in a rat model of acute lumbar spinal cord injury by human neural stem cell transplantation. Stem Cell Research & Therapy, 2013 DOI: 10.1186/scrt209

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At the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement for Science in Boston, neuroscientists outlined several lines of promising Brain–computer interface research. Advances in microprocessors, computing, and materials science, for example, have facilitated the development of “epidermal electronics,” which combine wireless communications, neural sensors, and other medical sensors into patches small and flexible enough to serve as temporary tattoos.

Read more: http://goo.gl/97eki

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“There is this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked, and The BRAIN Initiative will change that by giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember.”

— Barack Obama

 

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A large genome-wide study has identified four single-nucleotide polymorphisms shared between five major psychiatric disorders.

By Bob Grant | March 4, 2013

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People suffering from autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia have at least four genomic elements in common, according to research published last Wednesday (February 27) in The Lancet. Researchers combing the DNA of more than 60,000 people around the world determined that the five disorders were linked by single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that occur in at least four different spots on the genome: two in regions of unknown function and two in key calcium channel subunit genes.

“What we identified here is probably just the tip of an iceberg,” Jordan Smoller of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and lead author of the paper told The New York Times. “As these studies grow we expect to find additional genes that might overlap.”

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Though the four SNPs confer only a small risk of developing the psychiatric disorders, the study is the first to identify genetic elements that link such a wide array of pathologies. Nevertheless, the findings—especially the shared SNPs in genetic components of calcium channels—give hope for an eventual therapy to treat all the disorders. “The calcium channel findings suggest that perhaps—and this is a big if—treatments to affect calcium channel functioning might have effects across a range of disorders,” Smoller told the NYT.

 

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Image credit: Inserm / P. Latron

This is possible through the development of a “simplified artificial brain” that reproduces certain types of so-called “recurrent” connections observed in the human brain. The artificial brain system enables the robot to learn, and subsequently understand, new sentences containing a new grammatical structure. It can link two sentences together and even predict how a sentence will end before it is uttered. More info: http://bit.ly/15soo00

Journal article: Real-Time Parallel Processing of Grammatical Structure in the Fronto-Striatal System: A Recurrent Network Simulation Study Using Reservoir Computing. PLoS ONE, 2013 http://bit.ly/Xj3Zqz

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A new finding by Harvard stem cell biologists turns one of the basics of neurobiology on its head — demonstrating that it is possible to turn one type of already differentiated neuron into another within the brain.

More info: http://bit.ly/Wd6hHh

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A new study out January 10 in the journal Science turns two decades of understanding about how brain cells communicate on its head. The study demonstrates that the tripartite synapse — a model long accepted by the scientific community and one in which multiple cells collaborate to move signals in the central nervous system — does not exist in the adult brain.

More information: http://bit.ly/TNplel

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Image credit: Image courtesy of University of Rochester Medical Center.

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