Epigenetics change which genes are active and which are inactive. Research over the past few years has shown that these changes are important for protecting the brain from neurodegeneration and injury. A review paper came out on May 18th in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience that summarizes this research. Check out the infographic for a description of the review paper.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand why scientists do what they do. Why spend a career studying cells, fungus, or flies? Other than being nerdy and wanting to learn about our world, what’s the point?Continue reading
Would you trust a memory if it felt as real as all your others? And other people confirmed they remember it, too? What if the memory turned out to be false?Continue reading
What does eye-witness identification have to do with neuroscience? A lot, actually.Continue reading
Who hasn’t wanted to snap their fingers and dive into the pages of the gorgeous places featured in National Geographic? Caught in a miserable physics exam that you haven’t studied for? No problem, with teleportation you can be whisked away to an expedition to Mars or an Australian beach. Afraid of heights but curious about skydiving? Immersion into an artificial, computer-simulated environment can emulate the look and feel of the real thing without any danger or risk. Virtual reality enables the military to train pilots to fly planes without leaving the safety of the base. Virtual environments are almost limitless in scope, allowing researchers to study complex motor behaviors. These virtual environments are often experienced with a head mounted display that allows the participant to move freely within the perceived environment — be it a pre-historic landscape or a lunar landing.Continue reading
We all know too much sugar is bad for us. But did you know that having unfettered access to sugar might produce brain changes similar to highly stressful situations, such as neglect or abuse? A recent study published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience comparing the effects of unlimited sugar availability and the effects of early life stress in rats might suggest just that.Continue reading
“Do you know what you did yesterday?” asks the doctor.
“No, I don’t,” responds the patient.Continue reading
You probably have certain skills that I don’t. Each of us, having spent enough time practicing something new, can become an expert. A simple, ubiquitous example is driving a car with a manual transmission. The precise sequence and timing of controlling the clutch, giving gas, and shifting the gears are challenging to coordinate when initially learning to drive a stick shift. But eventually, the precision with which we can perform these sequences of movements is impressive. Specifically, the errors we make when learning, indicated by gear grinding and stalling, are reduced with repeated practice. Skill learning is relatively easy to train both in humans and in animals. It therefore serves as a great way to study how the brain forms memories and uses those memories in the future.Continue reading
Imagine having a memory that haunts you, sneaks into your daily thoughts and turns over on itself in your dreams. Escape seems impossible. Now imagine you are injected with a virus that blocks the expression of a certain protein known to reactivate memories. With minimal side effects and the small chance of erasing or altering other memories, would you do it?Continue reading