Zebrafish give new insight to sound sensitivity in autism

These tiny fish are helping scientists understand how the human brain processes sound.

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  • Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by changes in a gene that scientists call the "fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1)" gene. People who have FXS or autism often struggle with sensitivity to sound.
  • According to the research team, FXS is caused by the disruption of a gene. By disrupting that same gene in zebrafish larvae, they can examine the effects and begin to understand more about this disrupted gene in the human brain.
  • Using the zebrafish, Dr. Constantin and the team were able to gather insights into which parts of the brain are used to process sensory information.
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Psilocybin rapidly promotes neuroplasticity in the brains of rats

The compound found in "magic mushrooms" has significant and fast-acting impact on the brains of rats.

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  • Psilocybin and psilocin are chemical compounds found in "magic mushrooms."
  • A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found very interesting results when psilocybin was administered to rats to research the potential impact the chemical could have on the human brain.
  • Several studies have suggested that psilocybin could be a treatment for depression.
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'Viking' was likely a job title among diverse people, says DNA study

"The results change the perception of who a Viking actually was," said project leader Professor Eske Willerslev.

Västergötlands Museum
  • A team of international researchers spent years analyzing the DNA of 442 people, most of whom lived during the Viking age.
  • It's the largest DNA analysis of Viking remains to date.
  • The results show that Vikings were more genetically diverse than previously thought.
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Matt Cardy/Getty Images

By folding DNA into a virus-like structure, MIT researchers have designed HIV-like particles that provoke a strong immune response from human immune cells grown in a lab dish. Such particles might eventually be used as an HIV vaccine.

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Mars colony: Humanity's greatest quest

Just how close are we to setting up camp on another planet? It's complicated.

  • We are closer than ever to actually putting human beings on Mars, but exactly how close is very much still up for debate. Getting there is one thing, and we eventually may not have a choice, but there are a number of problems that need to be solved before our species can call the Red Planet home.
  • In this video, former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, educator Bill Nye, science journalist Stephen Petranek, astronomer Michelle Thaller, and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku consider mankind's fascination with Mars and explain why the planet may be the most viable option for colonization. They also share difficult truths about what it will take for this expensive dream to become a reality.
  • From finding a way to protect against radiation and adjusting to the difference in atmospheric pressure, to mining for ice and transporting food, to significantly lowering the cost of space travel, it certainly won't be easy. But that doesn't mean that it's not worth doing. As Leland Melvin says, the spirit of exploration and curiosity is in our DNA.

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