News report

Using lights to turn on/off pain in nontransgenic mice.
(by Haohao Wu, )

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A groundbreaking methodology was developed recently by Stanford researchers to relieve pain in freely moving mice. This method applies the most state of the art technique, optogenetics, using lights to control peripheral neurons nociceptors which are involved in pain processing. Notably, unlike using transgenic animals, this approach uses virus to introduce light-sensitive protein opsins into the neurons, enabling the application of thetechnique across species. This method is published in Nature Biotechnology.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

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Mapping mouse brain by Mouse Connectome Project reveals how different brain regions communicate.
(by Haohao Wu, )

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Although the mega brain projects announced by the US and Europe last year attracted considerable attention, researchers have been actually working towards the goal to get a comprehensive map of brain connections for years. Recently, a study published in Cell shows meticulously constructedneuronal connections in mouse cerebral cortex built up from hundreds of neuronal pathways. This project, named Mouse Connectome Project, attempts to build a completed map of neuronal connections of whole mouse brain in five years.
(Image credit: Brian Zingg et al./Cell)

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How to make brain more socialized? Microglia needed.
(by Haohao Wu, )

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During brain development, microglia plays an important role in synaptic pruning, plucking off unwanted synapses. A recent study in Nature neuroscience shows that defects in this process in early life cause weaker connections of mouse brains. And this even has a lifelong impact on the animals’ social behavior that some autism-like signs show up in these animals.
(Picture modified from Kettenmann et al./Neuron)

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Want to improve your memory? Try two cups of coffee.
(by Haohao Wu, )

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When we would like to focus on a task, we usually take a cup of coffee before. A recent study has discovered that drinking two cups of coffee immediately after study can boost your long term memory of what you have just learnt. So, if you want to improve your memory, please take coffee after.
(Picture modified from Jim Schuett )

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Sex differences between men and women's brain: from wiring to behavior?
(by Haohao Wu, )

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Men and women often think and behave differently. Is this because that their brains are somehow different from each other? Recently researchers discovered that males had greater within-hemispheric connectivity while females had greater between-hemispheric connectivity. This finding may explain why males and females show differences in some cases.
(Picture credit: moodboard/SuperStock)

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Mice "inform" their offspring of dangers by inheriting fears through sperms
(by Haohao Wu, )

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People suffer from traumas, like wars or starvation, such much that their children are affected. Researchers recently reveal that parents pass not only genes but also the activity of gene expression through epigenetic modification. By this way, children are inherited with parents' memory of traumatic experience and show the similar response when they meet the same stimuli.
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Polarqueen)

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Mosaic brain: Neurons in the same brain do not really have the same genome
(by Haohao Wu, )

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We learnt in textbook that our cells contain the same DNA even from different organs. However, using single-cell technologies, researchers discovered that even in one organ, cells have notable genetic diversification. Recently, Michael J. McConnell and collaborators showed this phenomenon in the human brain. Why do our neurons have different genome?
(Credit: Tanya C. Warwick)

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Before read the brain: How does brain read?
(by Haohao Wu, )

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We watch on the world around us when we are awake. And we sometimes dream when we are sleeping. In this story, you will read the achievements from Prof. Jack Gallant's team about the first approach to reconstruct the natural movie from human brain activity and also how our brains organizethousands of distinct objects and action categories.
(Credit:Kerri Smith, Nature)

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Oldest brain found in Turkey
(by Haohao Wu, )

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Archeologists found well preserved brain tissues during an excavation in western Turkey. This discovery of 4000-years-old brains may help scientists to understand more about ancient brains.

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CLARITY: Making brain transparent
(by Haohao Wu, )

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Stanford researchers developed a method called CLARITY, making brain tissue transparent and permeable for macromolecules. It allows the 3D-imaging and 3D molecular analysis of brain.

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Our brains may be less tangled as we used to imagine
(by Haohao Wu, )

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As a part of NIH Human Connectome Project, scientists discovered the grid structure of nerve fiber pathways in the brain, bringing a high resolution of neuroanatomy and suggesting how nerve pathways may be organized and developed.
(Image courtesy of NIH Human Connectome Project)

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Art of Science

History

The origin of human EEG

Hans Berger
(1873 - 1941)


The experiment designed in Otto Loewi’s dream:
synaptic signaling used chemical messengers

Sir Henry Hallett Dale
(1875 - 1968)

Otto Loewi
(1873 - 1961)


The first direct recorded action potential
by Hodgkin and Huxley

Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
(1914 - 1998)

Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley
(1917 - 2012)


Pioneers of neuroanatomy: Golgi and Cajal

Camillo Golgi
(1843 - 1926)

Santiago Ramón y Cajal
(1852 - 1934)