Sweet Serotonin

The Dorsal Raphe Nucleus, or DRN, is an area of the brain located along the midline of the brainstem, which is found towards the back of your brain. The DRN contains the largest number of serotonin-containing neurons, called serotonergic neurons, in the brain. You may recognize serotonin from the drug advertisements on TV, as it is a popular target for treating depression. Unsurprisingly, serotonin is … Continue reading Sweet Serotonin

Clearing Out the Junk: Healthy lifestyle choices boost brain waste disposal

by Benjamin Andreone figures by Nick Lue An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? From packing in nutrients with a veggie-rich diet, to keeping off body fat through daily exercise, we have been taught our whole lives that healthy lifestyle choices are good for our bodies.  What has been more mysterious, however, is how these same choices affect our minds. Researchers from the … Continue reading Clearing Out the Junk: Healthy lifestyle choices boost brain waste disposal

World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan started a clinical trial this month to treat Parkinson’s disease with reprogrammed stem cells. This follows the successful restoration of brain cell function in monkeys using these stem cells reported last year. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of a specific type of neuron in the brain, called dopaminergic neurons, which make the essential neurotransmitter dopamine. The reduced … Continue reading World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

Dog owners rejoice! Dogs could be smarter than cats

A new study has compared the brains of dogs and cats and found cats wanting. Scientists counted the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of brains and found that dogs have more than double the number of neurons of a cat. While this doesn’t immediately rule that dogs are the smarter species, it does suggest they have a higher capacity for learning. Continue reading Dog owners rejoice! Dogs could be smarter than cats

Could Zika become a treatment for brain cancer?

Glioblastoma is one of the most deadly brain cancers because it is nearly impossible to destroy the cause of the cancer: cancerous stem cells. However, scientists are using Zika’s preference for stem cells to target and eliminate the cancerous stem cells in adults. The preliminary study shows the viability of this method, but more thorough research and a PR campaign may be necessary before Zika treatments for brain cancer can become standard protocol. Continue reading Could Zika become a treatment for brain cancer?

One Neuron to Rule Them All?

  The brain is arguably the most complex organ in the human body and understanding its structure could help explain a fundamental mystery of human existence: consciousness. The brain is composed of billions of specialized cells called neurons, which communicate with each other via electrical and chemical signals. Neurons are responsible for processes ranging from vital life functions to the ability to walk, talk remember, … Continue reading One Neuron to Rule Them All?

Branched synaptic arbor in fillet

The Drosophila neuromuscular junction is a beautiful and yet powerful model synapse for in vivo studies of development, physiology, cell biology and plasticity. This illustration by Saskia Van Vactor shows a field of ventral longitudinal body wall muscles in red, as if stained with phalloidin to highlight filamentous actin, the main protein building block of muscle. Against this background, several branches of intersegmental nerve extend … Continue reading Branched synaptic arbor in fillet

New Detailed Brain Map Could Aide Future Understanding

Researchers have created the most detailed general map of the brain to date by scanning the brains of 1200 people. After recording detailed imaging of the subjects’ brain activity as they performed a variety of mental tasks, the information was used to ‘teach’ a computer to identify spatial ‘regions’ of related activity. These regions span the brain, creating a 3D, puzzle-like map. Also called a … Continue reading New Detailed Brain Map Could Aide Future Understanding