This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 9 February – 13 February
News Feb 13, 2015
Decoding neuronal diversity; smoking thins the brain; pathological progression of multiple sclerosis, and more.
This publication review examines a recent study by Molyneaux et al. describing their research to resolve the molecular instructions driving pyramidal neuron specification. Purified neuronal subtypes were subjected to whole-transcriptome analyses by high-throughput RNA-sequencing to delineate the transcriptional dynamics that influence and refine neuronal identity during development.
Years ago, children were warned that smoking could stunt their growth, but now a major study shows new evidence that long-term smoking could cause thinning of the brain’s cortex, the brain layer in which critical cognitive functions such as memory, language and perception take place. Interestingly, the findings also suggest that stopping smoking helps to restore at least part of the cortex’s thickness.
An international team of researchers has for the first time documented the pathological progress of multiple sclerosis from its early to late stage and also shown that inflammatory and neurodegenerative processes have a role to play. This raises the possibility of new treatment options.
A region of the brain thought to control speech production develops abnormally in children who stutter--a pattern that persists into adulthood, according to new research. In this first study to use MRI imaging to examine brain development in both children and adults who stutter, researchers found abnormal development of gray matter in Broca's area, the region of the frontal lobe responsible for speech. It was the only abnormality found in the 30 regions of the brain the research team investigated.
Mice genetically deficient in serotonin are more vulnerable than their normal littermates to social stressors, according to a new study. Following exposure to stress, the serotonin-deficient mice also did not respond to a standard antidepressant, fluoxetine (Prozac), which works by boosting serotonin transmission between neighboring neurons.
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.