How Competition Builds Memory
University of Michigan scientists have demonstrated how memory circuits in the brain refine themselves in a living organism through two distinct types of competition between cells.
What's the Latest Development?
A University of Michigan study published in the journal Neuron explains how brain cells grow and extend along pathways to link different parts of the brain. "As the brain develops, these connections fine-tune themselves and become more efficient. Problems with this refinement process may be responsible for some neurological disorders. 'We wanted to know how brain circuits become more efficient during the brain's development,' said the study's author. 'Does the brain choose to keep good connections and get rid of bad ones and, if so, how?'"
What's the Big Idea?
Results of the study mark a step forward in the search for the causes of neurological disorders associated with abnormal brain circuits, such as Alzheimer's disease, autism and schizophrenia. "The better the brain is at eliminating bad connections to keep the circuitry at its most efficient, the more efficient learning and memory will be as well," the study's author said. "The better we understand how these mechanisms work, the better we'll be able to understand what's happening when they aren't working."
It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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