Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, News

Parents’ second-hand smoke might clog children’s arteries

second hand smoke

A longitudinal study that spanned 26 years found that kids exposed to their Finish parents cigarette smoke are at risk of developing plaque in their carotid arteries as they grow into young adults. Previously, second-hand smoke exposure at a young age was linked to later breast cancer and a predisposition to nicotine addiction. Psychologically, having parent smokers may influence children to become smokers themselves when they grow up, triggering a cascade of other health risks….

Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, Neurology, News

Kept in the dark: half of Alzheimer’s diagnoses aren’t disclosed by doctors

Alzheimer's diagnosis

For its annual report, the The Alzheimer’s Association in the US claims that more than half of all reported early Alzheimer’s diagnoses aren’t disclosed to the patient by doctors. This is a situation reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s when cancer diagnoses were rarely disclosed to patients as the disease was generally seen as incurable. Like in the case of the long-gone cancer stigma, doctors may be doing more harm than good. They don’t want patients to lose hope, but being kept in the dark as to their suffering can be equally bad, if not worse. …

Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, News

Bioelectricity vital to brain and tissue development, tadpole experiment shows

Left: normal tadpole brain. Center: injections with a suppressor of neural induction (Notch) caused a significantly elevated incidence of malformed brain in tadpole embryos, including near complete loss of forebrain/olfactory bulbs, and malformed midbrain and eyes. The embryos also exhibited loss of the normal voltage pattern. Right: Restoring hyperpolarization (normal voltage pattern) restored normal brain morphology, with well-formed forebrain/olfactory bulb, midbrain, and hindbrain. (credit: Vaibhav P. Pai et al./ The Journal of Neuroscience)

Biologists at Tufts Universityand University of Minnesota showed for the first time that bioelectricity signaling between cells guides embryonic brain development in tadpoles. When bioelectricity signaling was hampered, the frog embryos developed abnormal brains. By using drugs that target specific ion channels, the researchers could restore normal patterns to ensure healthy brain growth. This means that careful manipulation of electricity inside the tissue can repair abnormalities caused by genetic defects. It can also be used to grow all sorts of wacky stuff.

Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain, News

Norwegian Researchers Are Crowdfunding to Make Psychedelics and MDMA Free for Global Medical Use Share Tweet

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As more and more researchers are starting to highlight the potential benefits of Psychedelic substances, one recent Norwegian campaign is aiming high: they’ve started a crowdfunding campaign to make psychedelics and MDMA legal for research and global medical use. In the past years, we’ve written about several studies documenting the positive effects that psychedelics may have, in a controlled environment and…

Mathematics, Mind & Brain

Struck by Genius: Brain Injury Turns Man into Math Genius

"I see this image in my mind's eye, now in 3-D, every time imagine how my hand moves through space-time."
Credit: Courtesy of Jason Padgett

In 2002, Jason Padgett was brutally attacked outside a karaoke bar, getting a brain concussion and a severe case of PTSD. But this may have actually been the best thing that happened to him – the brain injury turned him into a mathematical genius, and made him see the world differently, through a geometrical lens.

Animals, Mind & Brain, News

Bees have false memories too – this might help explain how our own form

honeybee

Memories aren’t infallible – even for those with photographic memory – so, more often than not, they’ll seem fuzzy. And the older these get, the fuzzier they’re recalled. Mixing names, faces and events in your head can sometimes be embarrassing, but at least we’re not alone. Seems like bees have false memories too, according to a study made by British researchers at Queen Mary University of London. Previously, false memories had been induced in other animals, like mice, but this is the first time natural false memories have been shown to happen. Research like this might help us, in time, understand how false memories are formed and, in a more general sense, how we recall events….

Animals, Mind & Brain, News

Rats Remember Who’s Nice to Them—and Return the Favor

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Rats remember acts of kindness done by other rats, and are more helpful to individuals who previously helped them. It’s not clear if they do this because they are grateful or if they are trying to make sure that they will get helped in the future as well, but their behavior gives scientists a new understanding of animal social behavior.

Mind & Brain, News

Decisions are reached in the brain by the same method used to crack the Nazi Enigma code

Alan Turing Enigma

The highlight of the award winning film, “The Imitation Game”, is when Alan Turing and colleagues devise an ingenious statistical method that eventually helped decipher the Nazis’ Enigma code. This breakthrough allowed Allied intelligence to read previously unavailable German military positions and actions, vastly shortening World War II. Interestingly, a team of neuroscientists at Columbia University found that more or less the same statistical method applied by Turing and co. is used by the brain to make any kind of decision, be it going left instead of right in an intersection or placing a higher bet during a high raise power game instead of folding….

Genetics, Mind & Brain, News

Big-brained mice engineered using human DNA

mouse brain

In the quest to understand what are the crucial differences between human and chimpanzee brains, scientists have isolated a stretch of DNA, once thought to be “junk”, near a gene that regulates brain development in mice. The engineered mouse embryos grew significantly larger brains. Those which received human brain DNA strands had 12% larger brains than those bred with chimp brain DNA. Research like this, though ethically controversial, might help identify which DNA sequences give a brain human characteristics, but also aid in findings treatment or cures for brain diseases like Alzheimer’s….

Mind & Brain, News, Offbeat

So you love religion but hate intolerance? Try Buddhism

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A new study has found that unlike monotheistic religions, buddhism doesn’t promote intolerance – instead, it promotes both selfless behavior and tolerance of people we perceive as unlike ourselves….