Brain

Researchers have discovered a completely new way to treat stroke and head trauma victims, potentially saving the lives of numerous such patients. The discovery was made by the NordForsk-financed Nordic Centre of Excellence on Water Imbalance Related Disorders (WIRED).

After head trauma or after stroke, brain swelling - caused by an influx of water into the brain - is one of the factors most likely to cause death, taking a great toll on society in terms of human suffering and economical costs.

Extracts of the hemp plant cannabis are traditionally used as a popular remedy against inflammation. At the beginning of the last century this natural remedy was even available at every chemist’s. But due to the intoxicating effect of the component THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) the plant was taken off the chemist’s shelves in the 1930s.

Ghost pains, it seems. Why do some people still feel discomfort long after their injuries have healed?

The definitive answer -- and an effective treatment -- has long eluded scientists. Traditional analgesic drugs, such as aspirin and morphine derivatives, haven’t worked very well.

A Northwestern University researcher has found a key source of chronic pain appears to be an old memory trace that essentially gets stuck in the prefrontal cortex, the site of emotion and learning. The brain seems to remember the injury as if it were fresh and can’t forget it.

While recent advances in neurosurgery have made it possible to precisely target areas in the brain with minimum invasiveness -- using a small hole to insert a probe, needle or catheter -- there remains a disadvantage. The small size of the openings reduces or eliminates direct site visibility and requires greater dexterity, stability and precision by the surgeon.Prof. Leo Joskowicz

An architect pursuing a Ph.D. at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and his colleague have devised a low-tech way to collect dew from the air and turn it into fresh water. Their invention recently won an international competition seeking to make clean, safe water available to millions around the world.WatAir, shown here in an artistic rendering, could produce an unlimited supply of fresh water even in remote and polluted places.

To learn a language is to learn a set of all-purpose rules that can be used in an infinite number of ways. A new study shows that by the age of seven months, human infants are on the lookout for abstract rules – and that they know the best place to look for such abstractions is in human speech.

Ecstasy is an illicit recreational drug popular among young people, according to background information in the article. Research in both humans and animals suggests that the drug can harm the brain. Ecstasy may damage nerve cells that respond to the hormone serotonin, which is involved in mood, thinking, learning and memory.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have illuminated the path taken by human neural stem cells that were transplanted into the brains of rats and mice, and found that the cells successfully navigate toward areas damaged by stroke.

A University of Leicester researcher has proved that men are as interested in gossip as women-and that women are more interested in gossip about other women.

The postgraduate research project by Dr. Charlotte De Backer, of the Department of Media and Communication at the University of Leicester, also found:

Researchers have discovered the molecule that links spontaneous physical activity and food intake in mice.

Scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)say Bsx is the molecular link between spontaneous physical activity and food intake. Mice lacking the molecule show less spontaneous physical activity, perceive hunger signals differently and have a lower concentration of feeding hormones in their brain than normal mice. Being conserved across species Bsx might be a promising target for controlling diet-induced obesity in humans.

Indiana University neuroscientists Olaf Sporns and Christopher Honey find the 98 percent of brain activity that other researchers consider just background noise to be fascinating and important.

Brains are always active, even when people are at rest. In this "resting state," waves of neural activity ripple through the brain, creating fluctuating and ever-changing patterns. Sporns and Honey's work on modeling this brain activity sheds new light on how and when these mysterious fluctuations occur and offers insights into what the brain does while idle.

Researchers tied the accumulation of the toxic brain protein beta-amyloid to Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

"Our findings show that beta-amyloid is associated with brain dysfunction—even in apparently normal elderly individuals—providing further evidence that it is likely related to the fundamental cause of Alzheimer's disease," said Christopher Rowe, director of the nuclear medicine department and Centre for PET at Austin Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The ability to learn from experience is of central importance to human existence. It allows us to acquire many of the skills we need to complete a wide variety of complicated, multi-step tasks in an efficient manner. It also creates habit – a critical, if often overlooked factor in the product and service choices consumers make. An important new study from the Journal of Consumer Research demonstrates how this “cognitive lock-in” can cause us to remain loyal to a product, even if objectively better alternatives exist.

Based on clues provided by a study with transgenic mice, a research group at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has developed a strategy that will be tested as the first treatment for people with hereditary inclusion body myopathy (HIBM), a rare, degenerative muscle disease. In an unexpected finding, the research indicates that the approach also might benefit patients with certain kidney disorders.

People who suffer from anxiety tend to interpret ambiguous situations, situations that could potentially be dangerous but not necessarily so, as threatening. Researchers from the Mouse Biology Unit of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Italy have now uncovered the neural basis for such anxiety behaviour in mice. They state that a receptor for the messenger serotonin and a neural circuit involving a brain region called the hippocampus play crucial roles in mediating fear responses in ambiguous situations.