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This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 1 June – 5 June

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Visual system plasticity; new link between the brain and immune system; the genetic basis of laughing, and more.

An eye opening look at adult visual plasticity

A new study from the Gandhi lab at the University of California, Irvine finds that transplantation of embryonic cortical interneurons into the adult visual cortex can reopen the critical period of plasticity in the visual system.

Missing link found between brain, immune system -- with major disease implications

In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer's disease to multiple sclerosis.

Quick to laugh or smile? It may be in your genes

Why do some people immediately burst into laughter after a humorous moment, while others can barely crack a smile? New research examining emotional reactivity suggests one of the answers may lie in a person's DNA. In a new study linking a gene to positive emotional expressions such as smiling and laughing, researchers demonstrated that people with a certain genetic variant -- those with short alleles of the gene 5-HTTLPR -- smiled or laughed more while watching cartoons or subtly amusing film clips than people with long alleles.

Poor sleep linked to toxic buildup of Alzheimer’s protein, memory loss

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found compelling evidence that poor sleep -- particularly a deficit of the deep, restorative slumber needed to hit the save button on memories -- is a channel through which the beta-amyloid protein believed to trigger Alzheimer's disease attacks the brain's long-term memory.

Less is more: Modified poliovirus therapy for glioblastoma

A modified poliovirus therapy that is showing promising results for patients with glioblastoma brain tumors works best at a low dosage, according to the research team at Duke University's Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center where the investigational therapy is being pioneered.