Brain

For all the current emphasis on standardized testing and teaching requirements, the quality of elementary school instruction is mediocre at best, according to a study from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development study published in the March 30 issue of Science magazine.

Scientists at MIT have created an ocean model so realistic that the virtual forests of diverse microscopic plants they "sowed" have grown in population patterns that precisely mimic their real-world counterparts.

This model of the ocean is the first to reflect the vast diversity of the invisible forests living in our oceans-tiny, single-celled green plants that dominate the ocean and produce half the oxygen we breathe on Earth. And it does so in a way that is consistent with the way real-world ecosystems evolve according to the principles of natural selection.

People are mixing supplements, herbs and over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs to cure themselves of ills, unaware that they could be making themselves sicker, says George Grossberg, M.D., director of the division of geriatric psychiatry at Saint Louis University.

Dr. Grossberg is about to change all that. He is the co-author of a new book, "The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide," which is a comprehensive listing of what various herbs and supplements do, possible side effects and how they might interact with other medications and foods.

Several neurological and psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, alcoholism, and Parkinson’s disease, are associated with changes in the brain that affect the nerves that communicate with each other through the naturally-produced chemical dopamine. One protein that is crucial for dopamine-mediated neuronal communication in animals is DARPP-32. However, very little is known about the function of this protein in humans.

A provocative new model proposed by molecular biologist John Tower of the University of Southern California may help answer an enduring scientific question: Why do women tend to live longer than men?

That tendency holds true in humans and many other mammals as well as in the much-studied fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

In genetic studies of Drosophila, Tower and his team have shown that genes known to increase longevity always affect male and female flies differently.

Common bacteria with an overt reaction to toxins that cause oxidative stress show promise as a biosensor to predict public health threats.

At the 233rd American Chemical Society national meeting in Chicago March 25-29, researchers from Virginia Tech and the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) reported their work on a bacteria biosensor prototype and correlations to brain tissue damage.

Is that pain in your chest a heart attack or indigestion? New research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine reveals that more areas of the brain than previously thought are involved in determining the location of pain.

The validity of a leading theory that has held a glimmer of hope for unraveling the intricacies of the brain has just been called into question. Dr. Ilan Lampl of the Weizmann Institute of Science's Neurobiology Department has produced convincing evidence to the contrary. His findings recently appeared in the journal Neuron.

Cells in the central nervous system tend to communicate with each other via a wave of electrical signals that travel along neurons. The question is: How does the brain translate this information to allow us to perceive and understand the world before us?

Although intelligence is generally thought to play a key role in children's early academic achievement, aspects of children's self-regulation abilities—including the ability to alternately shift and focus attention and to inhibit impulsive responding--are uniquely related to early academic success and account for greater variation in early academic progress than do measures of intelligence.

Little children never cease to amaze. University of Washington researchers have found that 18-month-old toddlers engage in what they call "emotional eavesdropping" by listening and watching emotional reactions directed by one adult to another and then using this emotional information to shape their own behavior.