Why mosquitoes love us Knowing Neurons

Why Mosquitoes Love Us

From that evil itch on your arm to torturous diseases such as malaria, Zika, dengue, and yellow fever, mosquito bites can have unpleasant consequences. But have you ever wondered why those skin-diving insects are so good at detecting humans? Not so surprisingly, the answer lies in neuroscience — in a special field called chemosensation, the sensing of chemical stimuli.Continue reading

WIDE AWAKE at #SfN14

There’s always one person snoring through the talk you’re trying to listen to at SfN.  That person might even be you at some point during this meeting!  Whether you are sleepy because of the time change, or because you finished your poster at 3AM, or because you were up late catching up with friends and colleagues, sleep is an essential behavior that is regulated by two independent processes: (1) a circadian clock that regulates the timing of sleep, and (2) a homeostatic mechanism that influences the amount and depth of sleep.  Surprisingly, despite significant progress in our understanding of the molecular clock, the mechanisms by which the circadian clock regulates the timing of sleep is poorly understood.Continue reading

Sleep ‘til you’re Hungry. Eat ‘til you’re Sleepy. via Knowing Neurons

Sleep ‘til you’re Hungry. Eat ‘til you’re Sleepy.

Have you ever tried to go to sleep hungry?  Believe me, it doesn’t work.  You just end up lying in bed, listening to your stomach growl, and dreaming about your favorite foods.  Have you ever experienced a “food coma?”  Think back to last Thanksgiving when you ate so much that all you wanted to do afterwards was take a long nap.  Clearly, hunger and sleep are closely related.  But how?Continue reading

The Drosophila Odyssey: Spartin Insight into Troyer Syndrome

We are all guilty of cursing at those pesky fruit flies that annoy us as they zip around the room just out of reach of being swatted.  Rarely, it seems, do we think about the incredible genetic insight lying within the genome of these microscopic menaces.  Drosophila melanogaster (the species name for the fruit fly) is in fact an extensively studied and valuable model organism that has helped unravel mysteries of neurodegeneration. One such mystery was the genetic cause of Troyer syndrome – a hereditary spastic paraplegia caused by a mutation in the human spartin gene.  This mutation induces degeneration of corticospinal tract axons, which causes mental retardation, muscle wasting, short stature, lower extremity spasticity, and overall movement problems.Continue reading

Mending a broken heart with alcohol

Getting over a breakup is not easy; rejection is even more awful.  Many people turn to alcohol to drown out their sorrow.  In an attempt to study this seemingly unreasonable human behavior, scientists found that, surprisingly, humans are not the only ones who seek consolation from alcohol.  In a recent article published in Science, Shohat-Ophir et al. revealed a case of alcohol dependence behavior in Drosophila Melanogaster, commonly known as fruit flies.  They found that when fruit flies get unlucky in love, they are more likely to go for booze and become “drunken” flies.Continue reading