F A S C I N A T I N G Development involves mechanisms at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels to arrive at the complex anatomical and physiological structure of an organism. The study of development can shed light into the processes of many diseases that afflict people worldwide.
Speeding Up Brain Signals
Image of the Week
In order for messages to pass between brain cells, electrical signals must travel along the axons of individual neurons. Myelin — a fatty material that wraps around axons (pictured on the left and right of nerve fibers above) — preserves the strength of these signals, allowing them to move quickly along the axon. At each node, or gap in the myelin sheath (center above), electrical signals are amplified, allowing the signal to jump to the next node. Scientists are currently studying these nodes for clues about disorders like multiple sclerosis, a disease that damages the myelin coating on nerve cells and disrupts the transmission of messages between the brain and body.
Image: Desmazieres, et al. Journal of Neuroscience, 2014.
Source: BrainFacts.org

Speeding Up Brain Signals

Image of the Week

In order for messages to pass between brain cells, electrical signals must travel along the axons of individual neurons. Myelin — a fatty material that wraps around axons (pictured on the left and right of nerve fibers above) — preserves the strength of these signals, allowing them to move quickly along the axon. At each node, or gap in the myelin sheath (center above), electrical signals are amplified, allowing the signal to jump to the next node. Scientists are currently studying these nodes for clues about disorders like multiple sclerosis, a disease that damages the myelin coating on nerve cells and disrupts the transmission of messages between the brain and body.

Image: Desmazieres, et al. Journal of Neuroscience, 2014.

Source: BrainFacts.org

Reblogged from mindblowingscience  585 notes
biocanvas:

Neurons in a zebrafish embryo
Zebrafish have proven invaluable for understanding what we know about nerves and the brain. Observing brain development and interrogating how growing neurons find their correct targets are possible thanks to the transparent, genetically malleable nature of zebrafish embryos. Recently, scientists have developed a technique called “Brainbow" that individually colors each neuron, allowing researchers to map the start and end points of neural circuits. Applying Brainbow to zebrafish will allow researchers to visualize how neurons connect with one another during development and how different diseases disrupt this process.
Image by Dr. Albert Pan, Harvard University.

biocanvas:

Neurons in a zebrafish embryo

Zebrafish have proven invaluable for understanding what we know about nerves and the brain. Observing brain development and interrogating how growing neurons find their correct targets are possible thanks to the transparent, genetically malleable nature of zebrafish embryos. Recently, scientists have developed a technique called “Brainbow" that individually colors each neuron, allowing researchers to map the start and end points of neural circuits. Applying Brainbow to zebrafish will allow researchers to visualize how neurons connect with one another during development and how different diseases disrupt this process.

Image by Dr. Albert Pan, Harvard University.

Reblogged from we-are-star-stuff  314 notes
mindblowingscience:

Some Things You Can Do In Your Sleep, Literally

For those who find themselves sleeping through work – you may one day find yourself working through sleep.
People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions, according to a study by researchers in France. They think this may help explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise.
The connections between sleep, memory and learning aren’t new – but the research is notable for its examination of automatic tasks. The study, published Thursday in Current Biology, first recorded the brain waves of people while they were asked to identify spoken words as either animals or objects while they were awake. After each word, the participant pushed a button with either their right hand for animals or their left hand for objects.
The brain map produced by the EEG showed where activity was taking place in the brain and what parts of the brain were being prepped for response. This preparation might include hearing the word elephant and then processing that an elephant is an animal. The participants did this until the task became automatic.
The researchers then lulled the participants to sleep, putting them in a dark room in a reclining chair. Researchers watched them fall into the state between light sleep and the deeper sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). They were then told a new list of words.
This time, their hands didn’t move, but their brains showed the same sorting activity as before. “In a way what’s going on is that the rule they learn and practice still is getting applied,” Tristan Bekinschtein, one of the authors of the study, told Shots. The human brain continued, when triggered, to respond even through sleep.
But the researchers weren’t fully satisfied, so they took it a step further. They did it all again, but instead of animals and objects, used real words and fake words. They also waited until the participants were more fully asleep.
Again, they found that the sleeping participants showed brain activity that indicated they were processing and preparing to move their hands to correctly indicate either real words or fake words were being spoken.
"It’s pretty exciting that it’s happening during sleep when we have no idea," Ken Paller, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University who is unaffiliated with the study, told Shots. “We knew that words could be processed during sleep.” But, Paller adds, “we didn’t know how much and so this takes it to say, the level of preparing an action.”
While this sounds like great news for those who could use a few extra hours in the day for memorizing irregular verbs or cramming for the bar exam, the researchers caution that the neural activity they found may apply only to automated tasks. They hope that future studies may look into whether any similar cognitive task begun in an awake state might continue through early sleep — like crunching calculations.
"It’s a terrible thought, in the modern world," says Bekinschtein, referring to the pride people take in forgoing sleep for work. "I think in a way, these experiments are going to empower people … that we can do things in sleep that are useful."

mindblowingscience:

Some Things You Can Do In Your Sleep, Literally

For those who find themselves sleeping through work – you may one day find yourself working through sleep.

People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions, according to a study by researchers in France. They think this may help explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise.

The connections between sleep, memory and learning aren’t new – but the research is notable for its examination of automatic tasks. The study, published Thursday in Current Biology, first recorded the brain waves of people while they were asked to identify spoken words as either animals or objects while they were awake. After each word, the participant pushed a button with either their right hand for animals or their left hand for objects.

The brain map produced by the EEG showed where activity was taking place in the brain and what parts of the brain were being prepped for response. This preparation might include hearing the word elephant and then processing that an elephant is an animal. The participants did this until the task became automatic.

The researchers then lulled the participants to sleep, putting them in a dark room in a reclining chair. Researchers watched them fall into the state between light sleep and the deeper sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). They were then told a new list of words.

This time, their hands didn’t move, but their brains showed the same sorting activity as before. “In a way what’s going on is that the rule they learn and practice still is getting applied,” Tristan Bekinschtein, one of the authors of the study, told Shots. The human brain continued, when triggered, to respond even through sleep.

But the researchers weren’t fully satisfied, so they took it a step further. They did it all again, but instead of animals and objects, used real words and fake words. They also waited until the participants were more fully asleep.

Again, they found that the sleeping participants showed brain activity that indicated they were processing and preparing to move their hands to correctly indicate either real words or fake words were being spoken.

"It’s pretty exciting that it’s happening during sleep when we have no idea," Ken Paller, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University who is unaffiliated with the study, told Shots. “We knew that words could be processed during sleep.” But, Paller adds, “we didn’t know how much and so this takes it to say, the level of preparing an action.”

While this sounds like great news for those who could use a few extra hours in the day for memorizing irregular verbs or cramming for the bar exam, the researchers caution that the neural activity they found may apply only to automated tasks. They hope that future studies may look into whether any similar cognitive task begun in an awake state might continue through early sleep — like crunching calculations.

"It’s a terrible thought, in the modern world," says Bekinschtein, referring to the pride people take in forgoing sleep for work. "I think in a way, these experiments are going to empower people … that we can do things in sleep that are useful."

CAVEFISH EMBRYO
Confocal micrograph of a blind cavefish embryo at around five days post-fertilisation viewed from the side (lateral view) with an antibody that targets a calcium binding protein (calretinin) shown in green, which highlights different neuronal types and their processes in the nervous system. The cavefish Mexican tetra (Astyanax mexicanus) has a seeing and a blind form; the latter lives in dark environments, and relies on other senses. The blind cavefish has specially adapted traits that its sighted relation (dwelling near the surface) does not. These include a greater number of sensory receptors and taste buds along its body; these taste buds are also more efficient than the equivalent cells in the seeing cavefish. The eyes are still present at this stage of development but they will degenerate naturally during the lifetime of the fish as they live in a dark environment where eyes are redundant. Adult cavefish are blind.
The Cell: An Image Library
 

CAVEFISH EMBRYO

Confocal micrograph of a blind cavefish embryo at around five days post-fertilisation viewed from the side (lateral view) with an antibody that targets a calcium binding protein (calretinin) shown in green, which highlights different neuronal types and their processes in the nervous system. The cavefish Mexican tetra (Astyanax mexicanus) has a seeing and a blind form; the latter lives in dark environments, and relies on other senses. The blind cavefish has specially adapted traits that its sighted relation (dwelling near the surface) does not. These include a greater number of sensory receptors and taste buds along its body; these taste buds are also more efficient than the equivalent cells in the seeing cavefish. The eyes are still present at this stage of development but they will degenerate naturally during the lifetime of the fish as they live in a dark environment where eyes are redundant. Adult cavefish are blind.

The Cell: An Image Library

 

Reblogged from femscinerd  624 notes

medresearch:

First Blood Test to Diagnose Depression in Adults

The first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults has been developed by Northwestern Medicine scientists, a breakthrough approach that provides the first objective, scientific diagnosis for depression. The test identifies depression by measuring the levels of nine RNA blood markers. RNA molecules are the messengers that interpret the DNA genetic code and carry out its instructions.

The blood test also predicts who will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy based on the behavior of some of the markers. This will provide the opportunity for more effective, individualized therapy for people with depression.

Read more »

Funding: The study was supported by grants R21 MH077234 and R01 MH059708 from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health and by grants from the Davee Foundation.

Neuroscientists identify key role of language gene
Mutation that arose long ago may be key to humans’ unique ability to produce and understand speech.
Neuroscientists have found that a gene mutation that arose more than half a million years ago may be key to humans’ unique ability to produce and understand speech.
Researchers from MIT and several European universities have shown that the human version of a gene called Foxp2 makes it easier to transform new experiences into routine procedures. When they engineered mice to express humanized Foxp2, the mice learned to run a maze much more quickly than normal mice.

The findings suggest that Foxp2 may help humans with a key component of learning language — transforming experiences, such as hearing the word “glass” when we are shown a glass of water, into a nearly automatic association of that word with objects that look and function like glasses, says Ann Graybiel, an MIT Institute Professor, member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and a senior author of the study.
…
All animal species communicate with each other, but humans have a unique ability to generate and comprehend language. Foxp2 is one of several genes that scientists believe may have contributed to the development of these linguistic skills. The gene was first identified in a group of family members who had severe difficulties in speaking and understanding speech, and who were found to carry a mutated version of the Foxp2 gene.
Source: MIT News

Neuroscientists identify key role of language gene

Mutation that arose long ago may be key to humans’ unique ability to produce and understand speech.

Neuroscientists have found that a gene mutation that arose more than half a million years ago may be key to humans’ unique ability to produce and understand speech.

Researchers from MIT and several European universities have shown that the human version of a gene called Foxp2 makes it easier to transform new experiences into routine procedures. When they engineered mice to express humanized Foxp2, the mice learned to run a maze much more quickly than normal mice.

The findings suggest that Foxp2 may help humans with a key component of learning language — transforming experiences, such as hearing the word “glass” when we are shown a glass of water, into a nearly automatic association of that word with objects that look and function like glasses, says Ann Graybiel, an MIT Institute Professor, member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and a senior author of the study.

All animal species communicate with each other, but humans have a unique ability to generate and comprehend language. Foxp2 is one of several genes that scientists believe may have contributed to the development of these linguistic skills. The gene was first identified in a group of family members who had severe difficulties in speaking and understanding speech, and who were found to carry a mutated version of the Foxp2 gene.

Source: MIT News