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This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 11 May – 15 May

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Bacteria and the blood-brain barrier; the male bias of autism; blood stress markers; and more.

Breaking through the blood-brain barrier

The bacteria that sneak past the brain's defenses to cause deadly bacterial meningitis are clever adversaries. Brandon Kim would know. The biology graduate student at San Diego State University investigates the molecular tricks bacteria use to convince their host that they are harmless and cause disease. In a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Kim and his lab mentor, San Diego State University biology professor Kelly Doran, describe their recent discovery that bacteria take advantage of a molecular warning signal and induce the brain's cellular armor to temporarily break down, letting in the bacterial horde.

Research sheds new light on the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis

New research findings may shed light on the potential cause of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis. Researchers from Griffith University’s National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases have uncovered significant factors contributing to the pathology of this illness. The results reveal genetic changes in important receptors associated with immunological and cellular function and contribute to the development of this complex illness.

Psychotic hallucinations, delusions rarely precede violence

Mass shootings at the hands of unhinged loners – such as those in Aurora, Colorado; Santa Barbara, California, and Newtown, Connecticut, USA – perpetuate a commonly held belief that mental illness triggers violent crimes. But a new study from University of California, Berkeley shows that hallucinations and delusions associated with psychiatric disorders seldom foreshadow acts of aggression.

New insights into the male bias of autism

Male toddlers with autism have significant structural differences in their brains compared to females with the condition, according to research published in the open access journal Molecular Autism. The journal is publishing a special series of articles looking at the links between sex/gender and autism, which reveal additional insights into the role of prenatal sex hormones and the 'female protective effect'.

Method developed for determining possible stress marker in blood samples

A research collaboration between the universities of Oslo and Aarhus has resulted in the development of a new method with diagnostic potential. The new method that combines phase extraction with an enzymatic reaction may eventually be used for an improved and faster screening analysis of isatin as a potential indicator of stress and neurological disorders.