Brain

Euthanasia for newborn babies with lethal and disabling conditions is illegal worldwide, but in reality, its acceptance and practice vary between different countries.

In the Netherlands, about 200,000 live births occur annually; of these, 10-20 babies – mostly with severe congenital malformations – are thought to be actively killed. Yet between 1997 and 2004 only 22 such deaths were reported to the authorities, writes Kate Costeloe, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of London.

University of Iowa researchers have learned more about a genetic mutation that contributes to autism. The mutation occurred in sperm cells of a father, who does not have autism, but passed the condition on to two of his children.

Circadian rhythm is the basic 24-hour cycle that involves various behaviors, including sleeping and eating, in all living organisms.

In mammals, the circadian clock is organized hierarchically in a series of multiple oscillators. At the top of this hierarchy, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a region of the brain that is the body"s main rhythmic regulator, integrates light information from the eyes and coordinates peripheral oscillators throughout the body.

Toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often have difficulty focusing on people's faces and making eye contact, but a new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers found that these same toddlers do not have difficulty looking at photographs of faces.

Scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease (GIND) have discovered that reducing levels of the protein tau can prevent seizures and neurological deficits related to Alzheimer's disease. The findings, reported today in the journal Science, demonstrate that when tau is removed from mice genetically engineered to simulate Alzheimer's disease, their memory function is retained and they live a normal lifespan. Reducing tau levels also made mice more resistant to epileptic seizures.

As a group, young ADHD drivers are two to four times more likely to have a car accident than non-ADHD drivers. Daniel Cox, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at the University of Virginia Health System, has conducted research aimed at improving those odds. His team's newest study will look at the effects of methylphenidate (MPH), a controlled-release stimulant, on young ADHD drivers facing real-life distractions.

Scientists at CNRS and the Pasteur Institute, collaborating with physicians in Gabon, have just undertaken a study on cerebral malaria in children living in an endemic region. This study, which was published in PLoS ONE, should allow us to better understand this severe form of malaria which affects 20 to 40 percent of people infected by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, and is fatal in 30 to 50 percent of cases. The study also provides a lead on how to perfect a diagnostic test, which should allow for better patient care.

Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol over a long period of time may decrease brain volume, according to a new study.

The study involved MRI scans of 1,839 people from the Framingham Offspring study, ages 34 to 88, who were classified as non-drinkers, former drinkers, low drinkers (one to seven drinks per week), moderate drinkers (eight to 14 drinks per week), or high drinkers (more than 14 drinks per week). MRI scans were performed and used to measure brain volume, which can be thought of as a measure of brain aging.

Great Tits are, of course, songbirds - specifically Parus major. An international team of researchers have now found evidence for the existence of a "curiosity-gene" in our feathered friends.

Eating disorders may be overlooked in some groups - boys and some ethnicities - by physicians accustomed to diagnosing the condition in white teenage girls, say researchers at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The problem is compounded when the sufferers don't display the typical symptoms of disordered eating.