Medicine articlesUsing virtual reality to study the foundations of bodily self-consciousness
A group of neuroscientists and a philosopher have devised a series of novel experiments using virtual reality that could shed light on decades of clinical data pointing to cognitive and perceptual mechanisms involved in humans' concept of self.
One species' genome discovered inside another species' genome
A team of researchers has discovered that a bacterial parasite (called Wolbachia) can insert almost its entire genome into the genomes of members of one host species (a fly called Drosophila ananassae), and can insert parts of its genome into the genomes of members of several other host species.
Height research hits growth spurt
Over a century ago, scientists first proposed that height is a complex trait — one influenced by environmental factors and multiple genes. While subsequent studies revealed that most of the variation in adult height is genetically determined, there has been little success in pinpointing the responsible genes. Some clues have come from rare syndromes of extreme height or shortness caused by severe alterations in specific gene sequences, but by and large, these changes do not explain the normal spectrum of human height.
From frogs to humans, brains form the same way
It's a critical juncture in an embryo's development: the moment that a brain and nervous system begin to form from a mass of unspecialized cells. Scientists had believed that mammals and amphibians, distinctly different animals, have distinctly different developmental patterns when it comes to the nervous system. But new research suggests that their processes of neural development are actually quite similar.
Psychiatrists are the least religious of all physicians
A nationwide survey of the religious beliefs and practices of American physicians has found that the least religious of all medical specialties is psychiatry. Among psychiatrists who have a religion, more than twice as many are Jewish and far fewer are Protestant or Catholic, the two most common religions among physicians overall.
Ultraconserved elements in the genome: are they indispensable?
Three years ago, "ultraconserved elements" were discovered in the genomes of mice, rats, and humans. These are DNA sequences 200 base pairs in length or longer — some are over 700 base pairs long — showing 100-percent identity among the three species. They have been perfectly conserved since the last common ancestor of mice, rats, and humans, which lived some 85 million years ago.
'Skinny gene' does exist
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that a single gene might control whether or not individuals tend to pile on fat, a discovery that may point to new ways to fight obesity and diabetes.
Molecules that play role in bone size
Mice that do not make the protein CD200 have bigger bones, a finding that raises possibilities for treating osteoporosis, according to a report this week by a Yale School of Medicine researcher in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Adult brains reorganize after injury
It's well known that the child's brain has a remarkable capacity for change, but controversy rages about the extent to which such plasticity exists in the adult human brain — particularly, in the part responsible for vision. Now, scientists from The Johns Hopkins University and MIT offer evidence — derived from both brain imaging and behavioral studies — that the adult visual cortex (the area of the brain that receives images from the eyes) does, indeed, have the ability to reorganize. Moreover, that reorganization affects visual perception.
True identity of pivotal hearing structure is revealed
Our ability to hear is made possible by way of a Rube Goldberg-style process in which sound vibrations entering the ear shake and jostle a successive chain of structures until, lo and behold, they are converted into electrical signals that can be interpreted by the brain. Exactly how the electrical signal is generated has been the subject of ongoing research interest.
Choosing a mate: what we really want
While humans may pride themselves on being highly evolved, most still behave like the stereotypical Neanderthals when it comes to choosing a mate, according to research by Indiana University cognitive scientist Peter Todd. In a new study, Todd and colleagues found that though individuals may claim otherwise, beauty is the key ingredient for men while women, the much choosier of the sexes, leverage their looks for security and commitment.
Laser blasts viruses in blood
A father-son research team working from separate laboratory benches across the country has discovered a new use for lasers — zapping viruses out of blood. The technique, which holds promise for disinfecting blood for transfusions, uses a low-power laser beam with a pulse lasting just fractions of a second.
Higher social skills are distinctly human, toddler and ape study reveals
Apes bite and try to break a tube to retrieve the food inside while children follow the experimenter's example to get inside the tube to retrieve the prize, showing that even before preschool, toddlers are more sophisticated in their social learning skills than their closest primate relatives, according to a report published in the 7 September issue of the journal Science, published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.
Scientists investigate initial molecular mechanism that triggers neuronal firing
Carnegie Mellon University chemists have solved a decade-long molecular mystery that could eventually help scientists develop drug therapies to treat a variety of disorders, including epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.
New report on mobile phone research published
Mobile phones have not been found to be associated with any biological or adverse health effects, according to the UK's largest investigation into the possible health risks from mobile telephone technology.
Brain network related to intelligence identified
A primary mystery puzzling neuroscientists – where in the brain lies intelligence? – just may have a unified answer.
Research shows skeleton to be endocrine organ
Bones are typically thought of as calcified, inert structures, but researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have now identified a surprising and critically important novel function of the skeleton. They've shown for the first time that the skeleton is an endocrine organ that helps control our sugar metabolism and weight, which makes it a major determinant of the development of type 2 diabetes.
Sensitivity of brain center for 'sound space' defined
While the visual regions of the brain have been intensively mapped, many important regions for auditory processing remain "uncharted territory." Now, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and elsewhere have identified a region responsible for a key auditory process — perceiving "sound space," the location of sounds, even when the listener is not concentrating on those sounds.
New discovery leaves blood-doping athletes scratching their heads
A stunning discovery by German scientists may make blood doping and the treatment of severe anemia as easy as washing your hair.
Racism's cognitive toll: subtle discrimination is more taxing on the brain
While certain expressions of racism are absent from our world today, you don't have to look very hard to know that more subtle forms of racism persist, in schools and workplaces and elsewhere. How do victims experience these more ambiguous racist messages? Are they less damaging than overt hostility? And what are the mental and emotional pathways by which these newer forms of discrimination actually cause personal harm?