What if your heart could beat perfectly until your last days? Theoretically, that’s now possible.
Scientists at Washington University and University of Illinois have combined electrical engineering, 3D printing, and biology to create a custom thin mesh of electrodes that lays over the heart to correct improper cardiac impulses, ensuring the heart beats the right way every time.
This has huge implications for patients who suffer from myocardial infarctions, arrhythmias, and more. Click here to read more.
Science is pretty cool.
Sounding Out Synapses
The brain receives information from the inner ear, converting the perception of sound into the sensation of hearing. Multiple nerve fibers (green) synapse on a single inner hair cell, relaying information about sound to the brain. Multiple outer hair cells are innervated by a single nerve fiber, receiving information from the brain via efferent synapses.
Image: A projection of confocal micrograph slices through the intact cochlear epithelium shows hair cells (red) labeled with an antibody for hair cell-specific myosin. Myelinated afferent and efferent fibers contacting inner and outer hair cells express YFP (green). Each hair cell is approximately 10 μm wide.
Source: Cell Picture Show
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Brain on autopilot
How the architecture of the brain shapes its functioning
The brain will switch to doing something useful like daydreaming and imagining when it is not being used for other activities like reading or other functions according to researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, in cooperation with colleagues at the Free University of Berlin and University Hospital Freiburg.
…the highest agreement between brain structure and brain function [is found] in areas forming part of the “default mode network“, which is associated with daydreaming, imagination, and self-referential thought. “In comparison to other networks, the default mode network uses the most direct anatomical connections. We think that neuronal activity is automatically directed to level off at this network whenever there are no external influences on the brain,” says Andreas Horn, lead author of the study and researcher in the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.
Living up to its name, the default mode network seems to become active in the absence of external influences. In other words, the anatomical structure of the brain seems to have a built-in autopilot setting. It should not, however, be confused with an idle state. On the contrary, daydreaming, imagination, and self-referential thought are complex tasks for the brain.
image: A daydreaming brain: the yellow areas depict the default mode network from three different perspectives; the coloured fibres show the connections amongst each other and with the remainder of the brain.
Viral Gene Therapy Controls Pain Sensitivity in Mice Using Light
The mice in Scott Delp’s lab, unlike their human counterparts, can get pain relief from the glow of a yellow light. “This is an entirely new approach to study a huge public health issue,” Delp said. “It’s a completely new tool that is now available to neuroscientists everywhere.”
…The mice are modified with gene therapy to have pain-sensing nerves that can be controlled by light. One color of light makes the mice more sensitive to pain. Another reduces pain.
Increasing or decreasing the sensation of pain in these mice could help scientists understand why pain seems to continue in people after an injury has healed. Does persistent pain change those nerves in some way? And if so, how can they be changed back to a state where, in the absence of an injury, they stop sending searing messages of pain to the brain?
More Hints That Dad’s Age At Conception Helps Shape A Child’s Brain
Traditionally, research has focused on women’s “biological clock.” But in recent years, scientists have been looking more and more at how the father’s age at conception might affect the baby, too.
A study published Wednesday hints that age really might matter — in terms of the child’s mental health.
Researchers from Indiana University and the Karolinska Institute found that compared with children fathered by men who were 20-24 years old, kids born to dads who were 45 or older were three times as likely to have autism and 13 times as likely to have ADHD. Kids born to older dads were also more likely to go on to develop substance abuse problems and get lower grades in school. The findings appear in JAMA Psychiatry.