Brain

Stem cells reveal how illness-linked genetic variation affects neurons

Stem cells reveal how illness-linked genetic variation affects neurons

One difficulty in studying the genetics of common mental illnesses is that they are generally caused by environmental factors in combination with multiple gene variants, any one of which usually could not by itself cause disease. A rare exception is the gene known as disrupted in schizophrenia 1 (DISC1), in which some mutations have a strong effect. Two families have been found in which many members with the DISC1 mutations have mental illness.

Suspect gene corrupts neural connections

Suspect gene corrupts neural connections

Researchers have long suspected that major mental disorders are genetically-rooted diseases of synapses – the connections between neurons. Now, investigators supported in part by the National Institutes of Health have demonstrated in patients' cells how a rare mutation in a suspect gene disrupts the turning on and off of dozens of other genes underlying these connections.

New study takes the shine off magpie folklore

New study takes the shine off magpie folklore

Magpies are not attracted to shiny objects and don't routinely steal small trinkets such as jewellery, according to a new study.

In European culture, it is widely accepted that magpies (Pica pica) are the pilferers of the bird kingdom, unconditionally attracted to sparkly things and prone to pinching them for their nests, almost as a compulsion.

Shock waves from explosives cause significant eye damage

Shock waves from explosives cause significant eye damage

Researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) are discovering that the current protective eyewear used by our U.S. armed forces might not be adequate to protect soldiers exposed to explosive blasts.

According to a recent study, ocular injuries now account for 13 percent of all battlefield injuries and are the fourth most common military deployment-related injury.

Epigenetic breakthrough bolsters understanding of Alzheimer's disease

A team led by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School and King's College London has uncovered some of the strongest evidence yet that epigenetic changes in the brain play a role in Alzheimer's disease.

Epigenetic changes affect the expression or activity of genes without changing the underlying DNA sequence and are believed to be one mechanism by which the environment can interact with the genome. Importantly, epigenetic changes are potentially reversible and may therefore provide targets for the development of new therapies.

New Stanford research sheds light on how children's brains memorize facts

As children learn basic arithmetic, they gradually switch from solving problems by counting on their fingers to pulling facts from memory. The shift comes more easily for some kids than for others, but no one knows why.

Stuck in neutral: Brain defect traps schizophrenics in twilight zone

People with schizophrenia struggle to turn goals into actions because brain structures governing desire and emotion are less active and fail to pass goal-directed messages to cortical regions affecting human decision-making, new research reveals.

Published in Biological Psychiatry, the finding by a University of Sydney research team is the first to illustrate the inability to initiate goal-directed behaviour common in people with schizophrenia.

Clues emerge to genetic architecture of cognitive abilities in children

How genes affect intelligence is complicated. Multiple genes, many yet unknown, are thought to interact among themselves and with environmental factors to influence the diverse abilities involved in intelligence.

A large new genetic study in thousands of children and adolescents offers early glimpses of the overall patterns and connections among cognitive abilities such as language reasoning, reading skill and types of memory. The findings may lead to new tools in understanding human cognitive development and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Depression often untreated in Parkinson's disease

Shortly after actor Robin Williams committed suicide, his wife revealed he had the early stages of Parkinson's disease and some immediately began to link that to 'life is not worth living'. Depression is known to be a common symptom of Parkinson's disease, but remains untreated for many patients, according to a new study by Northwestern Medicine investigators in collaboration with the National Parkinson's Foundation (NPF).

Visual exposure predicts infants' ability to follow another's gaze

Following another person's gaze can reveal a wealth of information critical to social interactions and also to safety. Gaze following typically emerges in infancy, and new research looking at preterm infants suggests that it's visual experience, not maturational age, that underlies this critical ability.

The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.