This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 12 January – 16 January
News Jan 17, 2015
BPA and BPS affect brain development; the development of psychosis; the experience of pain and more.
Bisphenol A, known as BPA, is produced in massive quantities around the world for use in consumer products, including household plastics. In response to public concerns, many manufacturers have replaced BPA with a chemical called bisphenol S (BPS), which is often labeled as "BPA-free" and presumed to be safer. In a study published Monday, Jan. 12, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers in Deborah Kurrasch's lab at the University of Calgary have provided evidence that BPA and BPS cause alterations in brain development leading to hyperactivity in zebrafish.
The thickness of cortical brain tissue progressively reduces as individuals develop psychosis, according to researchers of a large, multi-site study of young adults at clinical high risk.
A new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder finds that when we use our thoughts to dull or enhance our experience of pain, the physical pain signal in the brain—sent by nerves in the area of a wound, for example, and encoded in multiple regions in the cerebrum—does not actually change. Instead the act of using thoughts to modulate pain, a technique called “cognitive self-regulation” that is commonly used to manage chronic pain, works via a separate pathway in the brain.
The information we gather from the basic odor-detection task performed by molecular receptors in the nose needs to be processed in the brain's olfactory bulb and olfactory cortex in order for us to make sense of an odor and glean what we need to know to take action. While so much of what we know about the brain leads us to marvel at its complexity, research published in the Nature Neuroscience by a team at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, India points in the opposite direction -- to a basic operation that is marvelous for its simplicity.
Washington State University (WSU) Spokane scientists have found a brain protein that boosts the healing power of sleep and speeds an animal's recovery from the flu. Research by WSU Regents Professor James M. Krueger has determined that a brain-specific protein is uniquely involved in sleep responses triggered by the influenza virus in mice. Without the protein, animals develop more severe symptoms of infection and die at higher rates than regular or control mice.
Neurons in the human brain receive electrical signals from thousands of other cells, and long neural extensions called dendrites play a critical role in incorporating all of that information. Using hard-to-obtain samples of human brain tissue, MIT neuroscientists have now discovered that human dendrites have different electrical properties from those of other species.