Pigs & Immortality: A Step Towards Reversing Death

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine have developed a system capable of sustaining certain aspects of brain function for several hours, even if the host animal has been dead for up to four hours beforehand. While this by no means suggests that complete restoration of neurological function is on the horizon, it reveals the surprising resilience of post-mortem brain tissue, introduces a promising technique that could allow scientists to study certain biological functions outside of live animals, and highlights the important ethical considerations that must be discussed before any potential complete resuscitation of neurological activity is achieved. Continue reading Pigs & Immortality: A Step Towards Reversing Death

Foxy Behavior: how a Russian fox farm uncovered the basis of canine domestication

by Drew Drabek figures by Nicholas Lue Foxes are not dogs. As a rule, dogs are docile and foxes are feral. You could say it’s in their DNA. But there are exceptions to every rule. A fox raised in captivity might learn to be gentle. A dog who was abused might lash out. Behavior: it’s complicated. There has been great interest in the selective breeding of … Continue reading Foxy Behavior: how a Russian fox farm uncovered the basis of canine domestication

Read My Mind: An Implant That Translates Brain Activity into Speech

For those who lose or lack the ability to speak, communication can be slow and painstaking. For example, towards the end of his life famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking communicated solely through the movement of a single cheek muscle as a result of his motor neuron disease (ASL). With the aim of finding a solution to this problem, a team at University of California have coupled … Continue reading Read My Mind: An Implant That Translates Brain Activity into Speech

Need to jog your memory? A zap to the brain could help

As you read this article, you may not be consciously trying to memorize each sentence, but the words do need to stick around temporarily. After all, you have to remember what you just read to understand the full article. This is your working memory, sometimes called “short-term memory,” and it allows us to remember things just long enough to complete a task. Its decline is … Continue reading Need to jog your memory? A zap to the brain could help

Scientists control rat’s movements with their minds

The concept of mind control sounds like something that only exists in sci-fi movies. Until now. Recent work from Zhejiang University on developing a system appears to allow human mind control over the rat’s movements. This “brain-to-brain interface”, or BBI, is achieved by wirelessly coupling the brains of a human operator and a “rat cyborg” and transmitting brain activity in real time. Brain cells communicate … Continue reading Scientists control rat’s movements with their minds

Oral bacteria may be responsible for Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. It progressively worsens multiple aspects of health over time, from short-term memory loss to behavioral changes to loss of bodily functions. The actual cause of Alzheimer’s is currently unknown. One widely-accepted hypothesis proposes that Alzheimer’s is caused by the accumulation of misfolded proteins in the brain. Unfortunately, many drugs targeting misfolded proteins perform poorly in clinical trials, … Continue reading Oral bacteria may be responsible for Alzheimer’s disease

How Marijuana Exposure Affects Developing Babies’ Brains

As states have begun to legalize marijuana, its use has been more openly discussed. While the effects of other commonly used drugs, such as alcohol, have been studied extensively, the effects of marijuana – especially on developing babies during pregnancy – have been much less studied and less widely publicized. This relative silence from the scientific community has affected the public’s opinion on the safety … Continue reading How Marijuana Exposure Affects Developing Babies’ Brains

‘Pacemaker for the brain’ may help prevent seizures and treat movement disorders

Anyone who has ever been scolded for talking over someone knows that speaking and listening simultaneously is a hard thing to do. Conducting an intelligent conversation requires active listening, understanding the received knowledge, and crafting a meaningful response, which often requires blending the new information with one’s own experiences. On a microscopic scale, each neuron in the brain must do exactly this – listen to … Continue reading ‘Pacemaker for the brain’ may help prevent seizures and treat movement disorders

Just Keep Swimming

When you read a research article, what you see is a finished product. Behind that finished product are countless hours, weeks, months, and likely years of time and effort that went into making that published article. Not only do the experiments take time, but so does setting up and troubleshooting all of the techniques that were used. In science, things rarely work the first time … Continue reading Just Keep Swimming