Medicine articlesBorn with a superstitious brain
An unusual experiment, conducted by Bruce Hood, Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Bristol, demonstrating that even the most rational people behave in irrational ways, became one of the star features at this year's British Association Festival of Science.
How did our ancestors' minds really work?
How did our evolutionary ancestors make sense of their world? What strategies did they use, for example, to find food? Fossils do not preserve thoughts, so we have so far been unable to glean any insights into the cognitive structure of our ancestors. However, in a study recently published in Current Biology, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and their colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology were able to find answers to these questions using an alternative research method: comparative psychological research. In this way, they discovered that some of the strategies shaped by evolution are evidently masked very early on by the cognitive development process unique to humans.
Proteins necessary for brain development found to be critical for long-term memory
A type of protein crucial for the growth of brain cells during development appears to be equally important for the formation of long-term memories, according to researchers at UC Irvine. The findings could lead to a better understanding of, and treatments for, cognitive decline associated with normal aging and diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Genome info from plant destroyers could save trees, beans and chocolate
An international team of scientists has published the first two genome sequences from a destructive group of plant pathogens called Phytophthora--a name that literally means "plant destroyer." The more than 80 species of fungus-like Phytophthora (pronounced "fy-TOFF-thor-uh") attack a broad range of plants and together cost the agriculture, forestry and nursery industries hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
Heavy-smoking college students have more mental-health problems
A study just published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research revealed that students who were heavy smokers and were seeking treatment at a university counseling facility had substantially more mental health problems than those who were nonsmokers or light smokers.
Epilepsy breaktrough on horizon
Researchers at MIT are developing a device that could detect and prevent epileptic seizures before they become debilitating.
A mouse for every gene
The University of California, Davis, will play a key role in a new worldwide effort to create a so-called "knockout" mutant mouse for each of the approximately 20,000 genes in the mouse genome. These mice can be used to study the function of specific genes and to create models of human disease, ranging from growth and development to cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
New system monitors tiny 'earthquakes' in bones to prevent fractures
Researchers are applying the same basic technique seismologists use to measure earthquakes for a new medical technology that promises to prevent stress fractures by detecting the formation of tiny cracks in bones.
Scent of father checks daughter's maturity
Chemical cues from fathers may be delaying the onset of sexual maturity in daughters, as part of an evolutionary strategy to prevent inbreeding, according to researchers at Penn State.
Mutation plays key role in hypertension
A gene mutation of a key enzyme that regulates smooth muscle contraction and blood pressure in rats has been identified by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The finding, the first genetic link to muscle contraction and high blood pressure, may lead to improved treatments for hypertension.
Slow brain waves play key role in coordinating complex activity
While it is widely accepted that the output of nerve cells carries information between regions of the brain, it's a big mystery how widely separated regions of the cortex involving billions of cells are linked together to coordinate complex activity.
Distinct genetic profiles for northern, southern europeans found
An international team of scientists led by researchers at UC Davis Health System has found that, with respect to genetics, modern Europeans fall into two groups: a Northern group and a Southern, or Mediterranean one. The findings, published in the Sept. 14 edition of Public Library of Science Genetics, are important because they provide a method for scientists to take into account European ancestry when looking for genes involved in diseases.
Lightning up the heart
A major breakthrough in research could lead to improved recovery of the heart when it is re-started after a heart attack or cardiac surgery.
Road wends its way through stomach
A computer model or "virtual stomach" revealed a central "road" in the human stomach, dubbed the Magenstrasse, that could explain why pharmaceuticals sometimes have a large variability in drug activation times, according to a team creating computer simulations of stomach contractions.
After insects attack, plants bunker sugars for later regrowth
Using radioactive carbon and genetically modified native tobacco plants (Nicotiana attenuata), scientists at Max Planck Institutes in Jena and Golm (Potsdam) and at the Research Centre in Jülich have discovered the first gene mediating tolerance to herbivore attack: GAL83, the beta-subunit of Nicotiana attenuata's SNF-1 related kinase.
Can hearing voices in your head be a good thing?
Psychologists have launched a study to find out why some people who hear voices in their head consider it a positive experience while others find it distressing.
Powerful people take more risks
Powerful people view life through rose-colored glasses, with their more optimistic outlook ultimately leading them to engage in riskier behavior.
Reconstructive surgeon aims for rejection-free limb transplantation
Years ago, the idea of attaching a donor limb onto a patient's body would have been the stuff of science fiction. But to date about two-dozen people around the world have received hand transplants. Thomas Tung, M.D., conducts research within this relatively unorthodox realm of surgery, investigating therapies that could potentially allow the body to accept donor tissue without the use of immunosuppressive medication.
Beauty and the brain
The phrase "easy on the eyes" may hit closer to the mark than we suspected. Experiments led by Piotr Winkielman, of the University of California, San Diego, and published in the current issue of Psychological Science, suggest that judgments of attractiveness depend on mental processing ease, or being "easy on the mind."
Microscopic brain damage detected in early Alzheimer's disease
Researchers have developed a new computer-aided analysis technique to identify early cellular damage in Alzheimer's disease (AD). The study is featured in the October issue of Radiology.