Brain

04/17/2014 - 10:24

Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited form of mental retardation, caused by loss of function of the gene for a protein called fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). A new study in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) indicates that the normal function of this protein is to bind directly to the ribosomes, which are the structures in the cell on which proteins are synthesised, and selectively inhibit translation of proteins. The study, published on 17th April in the Cell Press journal Molecular Cell, is from researchers in the University of California, the Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and the State University of New York at Albany.

 

04/17/2014 - 10:16

Circadian behavioural responses to light input in fruit flies (Drosophila) depends on two groups of neurons, called the morning and evening oscillators ‘talking’ to each other. Previously it had been thought that these groups of neurons worked autonomously in scheduling peaks of activity at dawn and dusk, but a new study proves that they cooperate. The study published in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports on April 17th comes from researchers in the University of Massachusetts.

 

04/16/2014 - 23:08

The feelings of wanting to dance to music and experiencing pleasure are influenced by the degree of rhythmic complexity or syncopation. This is the main finding of a study from researchers in the University of Oxford and Aarhus University, Denmark published in the journal PLoS One on April 16th 2014.

 

04/16/2014 - 13:06

For a long time, researchers thought that the star-shaped astrocytes (the name comes from the Greek word for star) were simply support cells for the neurons. It turns out that these cells have a number of important jobs, including providing nutrients and signaling molecules to neurons, regulating blood flow, and removing brain chemicals called neurotransmitters from the synapse. The synapse is the point of information transfer between two neurons. At this connection point, neurotransmitters are released from one neuron to affect the electrical properties of the other. Long arms of astrocytes are located next to synapses, where they can keep tabs on the conversations going on between neurons.

 

04/16/2014 - 11:38

Synapses are the points of contact at which information is transmitted between neurons. Without them, we would not be able to form thoughts or remember things. For memories to endure, synapses sometimes have to remain stable for very long periods. But how can a synapse last if its components have to be replaced regularly?

 

04/14/2014 - 10:42

Phencyclidine (PCP)-treatment of rodents is used as a pre-clinical model for human schizophrenia. Using such a rat model, researchers in the University of Southern Denmark, the Danish Technological Institute and NeuroSearch A/S have identified a group of 352 proteins whose phosphorylation levels rapidly change after PCP treatment. The results of the study, recently published in the Journal of Proteome Research should be relevant in the ongoing quest to find and target the molecular basis of schizophrenia.