This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 8 June – 12 June
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Brain inflammation triggers; new drug to target ALS; sleep in a dish, and more.
Brain inflammation caused by chronic nerve pain alters activity in regions that regulate mood and motivation, suggesting for the first time that a direct biophysical link exists between long-term pain and the depression, anxiety and substance abuse seen in more than half of these patients, University of California (UC), Irvine and UCLA researchers report.
Astrocytes appears to help keep blood pressure and blood flow inside the brain on a healthy, even keel, scientists report. Like a health-care worker keeping tabs on a patient's blood pressure, the finger-like appendages of astrocytes, called endfeet, quite literally wrap around the countless, fragile blood vessels in the brain, constantly monitoring what's going on inside and around them, said Dr. Jessica A. Filosa, neurovascular physiologist in the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.
Genes linked to creativity could also increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to new research carried out by researchers from deCODE Genetics and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London.
Scientists from the Gladstone Institutes and the University of Michigan have identified a cellular mechanism that can be targeted to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The researchers revealed that increasing levels of a certain key protein successfully protected against cell death in both genetic and sporadic versions of the disease. What's more, treating this pathway may also have implications for frontotemporal dementia because many of the same proteins are involved.
Washington State University (WSU) Spokane scientists have grown a tiny group of brain cells that can be induced to fall asleep, wake up and even show rebound sleep after "staying up late." The study - the first to document that sleep originates in small neural networks - opens the door to deeper understanding of the genetic, molecular and electrical aspects underlying sleep disorders.