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Cluster of Amnesia Cases in Opioid Users Puzzles Doctors

They can't explain the phenomenon in Massachusetts

(Newser) - As if opioid addiction isn't bad enough on its own, something else is going on in eastern Massachusetts (and possibly beyond) that is worrying public health officials. Doctors have identified 14 opioid users who have suffered amnesia, and they can't explain why. While memory loss in and of... More »

Bad News: Booze Gives You the Munchies, Too

At least it does in lab mice

(Newser) - You might hear your stomach rumbling, telling you to fill it with something tasty, but the actual impulse to eat originates in the brain. Now researchers studying the brain cells responsible—called agouti-related protein (AgRP) neurons—say that alcohol activates them, thereby triggering the urge to eat even though alcohol... More »

Scientists Make Shrunken, See-Through Lab Mice

'We can look into the wiring of the whole mouse in high resolution'

(Newser) - If your initial reaction is one of queasiness, it would be understandable: A new technique announced Monday in Nature Methods essentially allows scientists to make dead mice see-through—by stripping the lipids and water from the animals' tissues. The fat is what makes the tissues opaque; the removal of water... More »

Researchers Explain Why We Sigh

It's actually a vital life process to keep our lungs functioning: study

(Newser) - People may think they sigh just for the heck of it, but UCLA and Stanford researchers have pinpointed two specific clusters of neurons in the brain stem that appear to turn normal breaths into sighs—and that process may happen for a vital reason, a press release notes. Using mice... More »

Could This Discovery End Alcoholism?

Blocking D1 receptors in brain blocks alcohol cravings: study

(Newser) - Scientists say a cure for alcoholism could be on the horizon thanks to the remarkable discovery of neurons in the brain that play a role in whether one glass of wine turns into a bottle. Texas A&M researchers explain the part of your brain known as the dorsomedial striatum... More »

Some Brain Cancers Grow When Patients Think

Active neurons actually promote the growth of high-grade gliomas

(Newser) - Thoughts can be deadly. So posits new research published this week in the journal Cell investigating the link between brain activity and tumor growth. Specifically, researchers at Stanford found that activity in the cerebral cortex promoted the growth of high-grade gliomas; they account for four out of every five malignant... More »

BPA Alternative Might Be Even Worse

Study suggests it affects brain development

(Newser) - A new study is lending more support to the idea that BPA-free products aren't necessarily safe products. Bisphenol S, or BPS, an alternative to BPA, appears to cause problems in the brain growth of animal embryos, researchers say. After studying zebra fish, whose brain development is seen as similar... More »

Nuclear Bombs Prove Our Brains Keep Growing

Research uses fallout from tests to show we get new brain cells as adults

(Newser) - Congratulations, your adult brain isn't meekly withering into a useless mass after all—it is instead generating new neurons all the while. Scientists have long debated whether the brain keeps growing into adulthood, and new research in Cell seems to have settled the mystery. What's more, the Swedish... More »

This Study May Help Us Stop Itching Someday

Scientists find nerve cells devoted to making mice scratch

(Newser) - Next time you're scratching an itch, don't blame the mosquito, the bedbug, the poison ivy, or whatever else caused it. Instead, turn your ire on MrgprA3. As Scientific American explains, that's the name of a newly discovered nerve receptor that apparently has one job—to make us... More »

Scientists Make Neurons From Skin

New process promises major breakthroughs in neurobiology

(Newser) - A key scientific breakthrough will help researchers get around one of the major obstacles to testing conditions like Alzheimer's: a lack of brain donors. The team has found an efficient way to turn skin cells into neurons by adding a few short strands of genetic material, the Independent reports.... More »

New Brain Cells Bump Old Memories

Study finds new neurons clear out short-term memory

(Newser) - The birth of new brain cells bumps old memories into long-term storage, according to new research which upends earlier theories. Researchers working with rodents found that the creation of new neurons destabilized existing connections in the hippocampus instead of strengthening them as they had expected, effectively "clearing the inbox"... More »

Your Brain Has a Neuron Just for Tom Cruise

...and another for every celeb you recognize, study finds

(Newser) - You have a neuron in your brain devoted entirely to recognizing Tom Cruise. Another specializes in Barack Obama, yet another LeBron James, and, yes, Jon and Kate are taking up two. By studying a decade worth of brain activity, researchers have discovered a series of cells that act like celebrity... More »

Reckless Teens Have More Mature Brains

Study links risky behavior to a better crop of white matter

(Newser) - Conventional wisdom says that teens who experiment with drugs, sex, and other risky behaviors do so because their brains—specifically the frontal-lobe areas responsible for decision making—are immature. But a new study turns that notion upside down, suggesting that risky teens have more mature brains than teens who play... More »

Artificial Brain Could Be Just 10 Years Away

(Newser) - A functional artificial brain could be built within the next decade, leading scientist and brain-builder Henry Markram told a tech conference. Markram, who leads a project seeking to reverse engineer the mammalian brain from lab data, says his team has already duplicated parts of the rat brain, the BBC reports.... More »

Think Hard: Telekinetic Toys On Their Way

Concentration 'magically' lifts ball in tube

(Newser) - Two companies are set to release toys this fall that kids can operate using only their minds—and that’s just the beginning of a telekinetic revolution, experts say. To use one toy, intrigued individuals wear a headset and concentrate on anything. The toy senses the brain’s electrical activity... More »

CIA Tactics Can Cause Mental Harm: Doctors

Bush-era interrogation memos understated long-term effects

(Newser) - Experts disagree with Bush-era rulings, made public in memos released last week, that interrogation techniques the CIA used on terror suspects don’t cause lasting psychological damage, the Los Angeles Times reports. “There’s absolutely no question they are going to lead to permanent mental harm,” one psychology... More »

Docs Track Autism to Brain's Fever Center

Batch of neurons may be key to treatment

(Newser) - Mulling over the evidence that the symptoms of autistic children recede during a fever—long reported by parents and confirmed by a study 2 years ago—two New York doctors had a “eureka moment,” seeing that link as a clue to treating the condition, Time reports. The same... More »

Brain Scientists Find 'Memory Molecule'

Blocking it could erase memories; enhancing may stave off dementia

(Newser) - Imagine having the power to wipe out a particularly troubling memory, or to enhance neuron systems in order to stave off the effects of dementia. Such techniques, once only considered by science fiction writers and philosophers, could now be within our grasp, based on studies in animals. The New York ... More »

Single Nerve Cell Can Hold a Memory: Study

New findings may shed light on addiction, memory disorders

(Newser) - Individual neurons in the brain can hang on to memories for a minute or longer, a new study finds. Something like a computer’s temporary random access memory (RAM), this working memory is what allows you to keep a phone number in your head for a few seconds, then forget... More »

Ultrasound May Help Counter Brain Disease

Low frequency ultrasound shown to release neurotransmitters

(Newser) - Bombarding the brain with sound waves may not seem like the most logical way to repair damage, but a new study shows that ultrasound may have therapeutic uses, reports the Economist. While ultrasound technology has long been used to take images of human interiors, such as fetuses in the womb,... More »

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