This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 20 July – 24 July
News Jul 24, 2015
Nociceptors as a new target for asthma treatment; key differences among ALS patients; football helmet tests not up to par, and more.
Asthma sufferers regularly experience coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The lung contains sensory neurons called nociceptors that respond to chemical, mechanical, or thermal stimuli, and activate coughing reflexes to protect our airways. Asthma sufferers tend to have denser nociceptor fibers which respond more quickly to irritants, suggesting that these cells would be useful targets for therapy.
A recent study conducted at Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research and NYU Langone Medical Center implicates a new culprit in Alzheimer's disease development. The research reveals that ßCTF -- the precursor of the amyloid beta peptide -- acts at the earliest stage of Alzheimer's to initiate a range of abnormalities leading to the loss of groups of neurons critical for memory formation. Results from the study are published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
A brain-chemistry deficit in children with autism may help to explain their social difficulties, according to new findings from the Stanford University School of Medicine. The research team found a correlation between low levels of vasopressin, a hormone involved in social behavior, and the inability of autistic children to understand that other people's thoughts and motivations can differ from their own.
Researchers on Mayo Clinic's Florida campus have identified key differences between patients with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and those with the most common genetic form of ALS, a mutation in the C9orf72 gene. Their findings, reported in Nature Neuroscience, demonstrate that ALS patients show abnormalities in levels and processing of RNA.
When modern football helmets were introduced, they all but eliminated traumatic skull fractures caused by blunt force impacts. Mounting evidence, however, suggests that concussions are caused by a different type of head motion, namely brain and skull rotation. Now, a group of Stanford engineers has produced a collection of results that suggest that current helmet-testing equipment and techniques are not optimized for evaluating these additional injury-causing elements.
When infants are playing with objects, their early attempts to pay attention to things are accompanied by bursts of high-frequency activity in their brain. But what happens when parents play together with them? New research shows for the first time that when adults are engaged in joint play together with their infant, their own brains show similar bursts of high-frequency activity.
Many species of mammals have evolved what appear to be paradoxical behaviours towards their young. Like humans, most exhibit nurturing, protective behaviours, and in some circumstances even act as surrogate parents. However, virgin males often engage in infanticide as a strategy to propagate their own genes. How are these conflicting social behaviours controlled?