“The plate on the left contains about equal numbers of colonies of two different bacteria. After the bacteria compete and evolve, the lighter ones have taken the lead in the plate on the right.” Source
Do we ever stop evolving? Twenty five years — and some 50,000 plus generations — of ever-fitter bacteria suggest no. NPR ‘Shots’ has the story of how Bacterial Competition In Lab Shows Evolution Never Stops.
The folks at Backyard Brains have developed a device called RoboRoach that lets you control the movement of a cockroach with your iPhone! With the RoboRoach you can control a single insect, but what if you had control of an entire swarm? One researcher is trying to develop such technology to aid in search-and-rescue missions. Read more at NPR’s coverage: What’s Creepy, Crawly And a Champion of Neuroscience?
Scientists still debate the exact function of sleep, with some arguing that it aids our memory, while others argue that it helps to conserve energy, and still other argue that it is needed to discharge our emotions. Well, a new study published in Science presents data suggesting that during sleep harmful toxins are cleared from our brains, which might prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s. Read more at NPR’s coverage: Brains Sweep Themselves Clean of Toxins During Sleep
The light show at the Mickey Hart Band concert is part science, part art. Mickey Hart, best known as the percussionist for the Grateful Dead, wears an EEG cap while he plays which powers the light show for concert. Read more at NPR’s coverage: This is Musician Mickey Hart’s Brain on Music
After being hospitalized for 2 months, Kali Hardig, 12, gets to go home after recovering from amebic meningoencephalitis which health officials believe she contracted at a Little Rock, Ark., waterpark in July. She is only the third known survivor of the deadly infection in the last 50 years. Read more at Daily News: Arkansas girl survives brain-eating amoeba
Using fMRI, scientists have located a part of the brain – just above each of the ears – that responds to quantities. It allows us to look at objects and quickly tell how many there are. This ability maxs out at five objects for most people, but anything less than that and we can quickly tell how many objects there are without even counting thanks to this region of the brain. Read more at NPR’s coverage: Scientists Put a ‘Sixth Sense’ for Numbers on Brain Map
While most doctors’ prescriptions tend to be for drugs, doctors in NYC are starting to write prescriptions for fresh fruits and veggies. The program connects low income patients with local farmer’s markets. The idea being that people fill prescriptions for drugs, why not prescribe healthy food. The program seems to be helping – 38% of participants saw a decreased BMI after participating. Read more at NPR’s coverage: No Bitter Pill: Doctors Prescribe Fruits and Veggies
In an effort to help surgeons identify and remove brain tumors, scientists have developed a paint that is attracted to specific channels on cancerous cells. The hope is that with this paint, doctors can more accurately remove just the tumor and not any healthy brain tissue. By sparing the surrounding healthy brain tissue, patients will have fewer symptoms after surgery. Read more at NPR’s coverage: Why Painting Tumors Could Make Brain Surgeons Better
This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine has been awarded to three scientists who helped us understand how our cells communicate. The research, conducted over the last 30 years, has broad reaching implications including links to neurodegenerative diseases, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophies and some autoimmune disorders.. Read more at NPR’s coverage: Nobel Winners Decoded How Neurons Talk to Each Other
In an effort to figure out how language helps babies learn, researchers studied infant learning in response to lemur screeches. Amazingly, 3 month old human infants learned in response to lemur shrieks. Although, this effect was gone by 6 months, at which point only human speech helped the babies learn. Read more at NPR’s coverage: Enough with Baby Talk; Infants Learn from Lemur Screeches, too
As part of ongoing research to determine the causes of migraines, researchers using MRI discovered that the brains of those of us who suffer from migraines have white matter abnormalities that appear similar to mini-strokes. There is also a slightly increased risk for stroke for those who experience migraines with aura (flashing lights before a migraine), making it very important to practice stroke prevention. Read more at NPR’s coverage: Migraine Brain Changes
The NFL has agreed to pay $765 million dollars to resolve a lawsuit brought by over 4,500 ex-players and their families, accusing the league of concealing the dangers of repeated head trauma. The money will go to players or families of players who sustained cognitive injury as well as to funding scientific research. The league has denied any wrongdoing and insists that safety has always been a top priority, but research has indicated a link between repeated head trauma and development of brain disorders, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Read more at NYTimes coverage: NFL Settles Lawsuit
The Japanese company Scentee has created an attachment for the iPhone that can spray out scents ranging from flowers to cooked meats. In their commercial, the company makes it seem like smelling food can actually hold off cravings, yet scientists beg to differ. You’ll be able to test it yourself in late November 2013 when Scentee makes its debut in the United States. Read more at NPR’s coverage: A Japanese iPhone Gadget Teases The Tummy With Food Smells
Closeup of new California ‘Vaccine Exemption’ form with the religious exemption option highlighted.
NPR has the story of How A California Law To Encourage Vaccination Could Backfire. A new form intended to require all parents to talk through vaccination risks and benefits with a health care provider before exempting their children includes an unexpected exemption of its own – one that challenges the law itself.
Researcher Andrea Stocco sits ready to receive brain signals from his collaborator. Source: R.P.N. Rao and A. Stocco.
NPR – Don’t Call It A Mind-Meld: Human Brains Connect Via Internet. Using electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), researchers were able to have one person’s thoughts control another person’s actions. In this case, the subjects (who were also the researchers) were only playing a video game and pressing a button to fire, but still – very cool!
The new coronavirus as seen with an electron microscope. Note the characteristic halo, or ‘corona’, of proteins projecting from its outer surface. Source: NIAID/RML.
NPR has the story of the ongoing hospital outbreak of a novel coronavirus first isolated back in September. Like its cousin SARS, the virus some are calling MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) causes severe, potentially fatal pneumonia in humans. Another troubling aspect of the new virus is that it may disrupt our immune system recognizing the cells it has infected [*]. The World Health Organization has the most recent updates available as part of its Global Alert & Response system.
“Reprogrammed cells (green) fuse with and become skeletal muscles (red), spreading infection as they go. Cell nuclei are shown in blue.” Source: Masaki et al./Cell
Recent research into the mechanisms of leprosy suggests that bacterium Mycobacterium leprae reprograms human Schwann cells to act as stem cell-like vectors for further infection. WIRED Science has the story.
Illustration by Stuart Bradford. Source: New York Times website.
How far would you go to avoid getting a certain type of cancer? How far would you go to avoid getting it again? In Facing Cancer, a Stark Choice, New York Times writer Tara Parker-Pope talks about the dramatic increase in women with breast cancer or at risk of breast cancer seeking to have healthy breasts removed. Commentator Jeanne from Ohio suggests that cosmetics are also a factor.
The New York Times summarizes two recent papers on melanomas, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, that provide strong evidence that such cancers start not with mutations in genes, but mutations in the DNA regions that control them. The vast majority of our human genetic code comprises of these and other non-coding regions of DNA; what was once dismissed as mostly ‘junk DNA’ might be better called ‘dark matter’, considering how much we still have to learn about their function.
Caption via New York Times: “Tiny magnetic beads force the larger T-cells to divide before they are infused into the patient.” (Photo: University of Pennsylvania)
The HIV virus causes AIDS, one of the top ten causes of death worldwide. It is also the surprising key to a new cancer treatment with revolutionary promise. The New York Times tells the story.
Introducing the News Blog
Posted on December 4, 2012 by Jane Newbold | Categories: News | |
This section of the website will feature news we think you will find interesting and relevant. Please contact us if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, and/or lamentations as we get it up and running.