Tag Archives: spinal cord

How do we feel pain?

One day Donald Simone, then a psychology major at Northeastern University, was thumbing through the job listings for work-study students.

He found several choices, including a cafeteria job and one in a neuroscience lab. He decided to try the science lab.

“It was studying eye movements and the parts of the brain that control them in different conditions, for example, darkness,” says Simone. “I went into that lab and ended up loving it. I thought doing anything with the brain was fascinating.” (more…)

Read More

Mystery Solved: How Nerve Impulse Generators Get Where They Need to Go

Study identifies essential molecule for transport of protein from neuron cell body to axon

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Scientists have solved a longstanding mystery of the central nervous system, showing how a key protein gets to the right spot to launch electrical impulses that enable communication of nerve signals to and from the brain.
 
Nerve impulses are critical because they are required for neurons to send information about senses, movement, thinking and feeling to other cell types in the neural circuitry. And an impulse is not fired up just once; it is initiated and then must be repeatedly transmitted along axons – long, slender extensions of nerve cell bodies – to keep the nervous system’s messages stable during their rapid travel. (more…)

Read More

‘Life as Research Scientist’: Jo Varner, Biologist

Jo Varner, University of Utah biology doctoral student, is currently conducting research on how small mammals like Pikas are coping with Earth’s warming climate. Her study is concentrated on Pikas in the Columbia River Gorge area in the U.S, which is an unusual habitat for this species. Recently we had the opportunity to talk to Miss Varner about her research, why it is important and how life as a research scientist is. Here is what we learned from Miss Jo Varner:

Q. Let us start with your research topic. What is your research area? Will you please tell us a bit more on this? What did you find?

Jo Varner: Glad to talk with you! Broadly, I am interested in how climate change is impacting animals, particularly in sensitive environments like the high mountains. Specifically, I am working with American pikas, which are a small mammal closely related to rabbits. Pikas are typically restricted to high elevation mountains in western North America. They appear to be very sensitive to climate change in parts of their range, but in other parts they seem to be less vulnerable. (more…)

Read More

UT Austin Anthropologists Confirm Link Between Cranial Anatomy and Two-Legged Walking

AUSTIN, Texas — Anthropology researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have confirmed a direct link between upright two-legged (bipedal) walking and the position of the foramen magnum, a hole in the base of the skull that transmits the spinal cord.

The study, published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Human Evolution, confirms a controversial finding made by anatomist Raymond Dart, who discovered the first known two-legged walking (bipedal) human ancestor, Australopithecus africanus. Since Dart’s discovery in 1925, physical anthropologists have continued to debate whether this feature of the cranial base can serve as a direct link to bipedal fossil species. (more…)

Read More

UCLA Relies on Breakthrough ‘Big Data’ Technology from IBM To Help Patients with Traumatic Brain Injuries

Bedside Early-Warning System from IBM and Excel Medical Electronics Can Analyze Large Amounts of Data in Real Time to Predict Dangerous Changes in a Patient’s Condition

Armonk, N.Y. and Los Angeles, CA – 26 Mar 2013: IBM, and Excel Medical Electronics (EME) are collaborating with the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery in a study to test the effectiveness of a real-time alarm intended to predict rising brain pressure in patients with traumatic brain injuries. The experimental system uses big data analytics software developed by IBM Research and EME that analyzes in real-time streams of vital signs continuously collected from the bedside monitor to spot subtle changes in the patient’s pulse, blood and intracranial pressure, heart activity, and respiration, signaling that dangerous high-risk increases in brain pressure are on the way. (more…)

Read More

A Better Way to Culture Central Nervous Cells

A protein associated with neuron damage in Alzheimer’s patients provides a superior scaffold for growing central nervous system cells in the lab. The findings could have clinical implications for producing neural implants and offers new insights on the complex link between the apoE4 apolipoprotein and Alzheimer’s disease. Results appear in the journal Biomaterials.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A protein associated with neuron damage in people with Alzheimer’s disease is surprisingly useful in promoting neuron growth in the lab, according to a new study by engineering researchers at Brown University. The findings, in press at the journal Biomaterials, suggest a better method of growing neurons outside the body that might then be implanted to treat people with neurodegenerative diseases. (more…)

Read More

Scientists Find Possible Cause of Movement Defects in Spinal Muscular Atrophy

COLUMBUS, Ohio – An abnormally low level of a protein in certain nerve cells is linked to movement problems that characterize the deadly childhood disorder spinal muscular atrophy, new research in animals suggests.

Spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, is caused when a child’s motor neurons – nerve cells that send signals from the spinal cord to muscles – produce insufficient amounts of what is called survival motor neuron protein, or SMN. This causes motor neurons to die, leading to muscle weakness and the inability to move. (more…)

Read More