Tag Archives: neural circuits

Early neural wiring for smell persists

A new study in Science reveals that the fundamental wiring of the olfactory system in mice sets up shortly after birth and then remains stable but adaptable. The research highlights how important early development can be throughout life and provides insights that may be important in devising regenerative medical therapies in the nervous system.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — To accommodate a lifetime of scents and aromas, mammals have hundreds of genes that each produce a different odorant receptor. The complex and diverse olfactory system they build remains adaptable, but a new study in the journal Science shows that the system’s flexibility, or plasticity, has its limits. Working in mice, Brown University scientists found that the fundamental neural wiring map between the nose and the brain becomes established in a critical period of early development and then regenerates the same map thereafter. (more…)

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The origins of laughter

We know the benefits of laughter on health. But why do we laugh? What are the evolutionary origins of laughter and humour? Steven Légaré has asked these questions and has made them the subject of his master’s thesis, which he recently submitted to the Université de Montréal’s Department of Anthropology.

“Science provides few answers to these questions other than in psychology and neuroscience. From the perspective of anthropology, laughter and humour are often overlooked. However, it is a serious subject,” says the recent graduate. (more…)

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New Insights into the ‘Borderline Personality’ Brain

TORONTO, ON — New work by University of Toronto Scarborough researchers gives the best description yet of the neural circuits that underlie a severe mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and could lead to better treatments and diagnosis.

The work shows that brain regions that process negative emotions (for example, anger and sadness) are overactive in people with BPD, while brain regions that would normally help damp down negative emotions are underactive. (more…)

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Cosmetic Chemical Hinders Brain Development in Tadpoles

*A new study finds that low concentrations of the chemical methylisothiazolinone has subtle but measurable negative effects on the neural development of tadpoles. The chemical is found in some cosmetics, although the study does not provide any evidence that cosmetics are unsafe for humans.*

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Scientists, health officials, and manufacturers already know that a chemical preservative found in some products, including cosmetics, is harmful to people and animals in high concentrations, but a new Brown University study in tadpoles reports that it can also interrupt neurological development even in very low concentrations.

In the cosmetics industry, the biocide methylisothiazolinone or MIT, is considered safe at concentrations of less than 100 parts per million. Lab studies, however, have found that lower concentrations affected the growth of animal neurons. Picking up from there, the Brown researchers performed a series of experiments to investigate how 10 days of exposure at concentrations as low as 1.5 ppm would affect whole, living tadpoles as they develop. Their results appear in advance online in the journal Neuroscience. (more…)

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Tiny Worms Change Direction Using Two Human-Like Neural Circuits

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— A University of Michigan biologist and his colleagues have found that the strategies used by the tiny C. elegans roundworm to control its motions are remarkably similar to those used by the human brain to command movement of eyes, arms and legs.

C. elegans, a nematode about 1 millimeter in length, is one of the most widely used animals in biological research. In the Nov. 11 edition of the journal Cell, U-M’s Shawn Xu and his colleagues show that the roundworm uses two neural circuits that respectively act as a gas pedal and a brake release to change direction. The gas pedal circuit has been known for years and was thought to be the only neural pathway involved. (more…)

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