Brain

A hormone produced during pregnancy spontaneously increases myelin, which enhances signaling within the nervous system, and helps repair damage in the brain and spinal cord, according to new animal research.

The findings, published in the February 21 Journal of Neuroscience, indicate that the hormone prolactin promotes an increase in myelin production and may have a use in treating multiple sclerosis (MS).

With an aging population susceptible to stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions, and military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious limb injuries, the need for strategies that treat complex neurological impairments has never been greater.

Stefan Heller's dream is to someday find a cure for deafness.

As a leader in stem cell-based research on the inner ear at the Stanford University School of Medicine, he's got a step-by-step plan for making this dream a reality.

It may take another decade or so, but if anyone can do it, he's the guy to place your bets on.

"Everyone asks, 'How long before we do this?'" said Heller, PhD, associate professor of otolaryngology, whose accent still bears the trace of his native Germany. "I tell them the devil is in the details."

A Johns Hopkins-led study has found evidence that a genetic tendency toward suicide has been linked to a particular area of the genome on chromosome 2 that has been implicated in two additional recent studies of attempted suicide.

The genomes of the largest collection of families with multiple cases of autism ever assembled have been scanned and the preliminary results published in Nature Genetics (February 18, 2007). They provide new insights into the genetic basis of autism.

The research was performed by more than 120 scientists from more than 50 institutions representing 19 countries. In the UK, work was carried out at The University of Manchester, the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London and the University of Oxford.

On Feb. 19 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco, movie lovers get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the physics-based simulations that breathe life into fantasy.

What role can scientists play in public decisions about the development and deployment of weapons systems? As the United States continues to commit its troops and technology around the world, this question is worrisome to the public and to concerned scientists alike. According to Rebecca Slayton, a lecturer in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Stanford, there's some hope: Science gives experts an important, albeit limited, space for influencing public decisions.

Better tie that string around your finger a little tighter.

It may turn out the reason some people grow increasingly forgetful as they age is less about how old they are and more about subtle changes in the way the brain files memories and makes room for new ones - differences perhaps better blamed on patterns of cell-to-cell communication than the number of birthday candles decorating the cake.

People’s long-term satisfaction with their lives often parallels that of their spouse, says a University of Toronto researcher in a study that deals a blow to theories that individual happiness depends mainly on genetic disposition.

New research findings now appearing online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology began with a professor's desire to understand why her husband often seemed to ignore her requests for help around the house.

"My husband, while very charming in many ways, has an annoying tendency of doing exactly the opposite of what I would like him to do in many situations," said Tanya L. Chartrand, an associate professor of marketing and psychology at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.