Tag Archives: neuroscience

Synaptic transmission: Another step illuminated

Illustration of neural exo and endo cytosis. Credit: U of Utah Many people, including neuroscientists, refer to the patterns of neurons in the brain and elsewhere in the body as “wiring.” It’s a metaphor, which makes it seem almost axiomatic that our nervous system operates on electricity and is akin to the electrical systems of, […]
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Mini-brain or cerebral organoid?

A cerebral organoid with brown pigment spots of retinal development…Credit: OAW If ever there was a nomenclature to stir up false images and expectations, it’s “mini-brain” (or miniature brain). It’s real enough, a pea-sized structure containing stem cell based neurons that has some capacity to function like brain tissue. Developed by scientists at the Institute […]
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Getting your head around huge brain projects

As the ‘thinking’ goes – a billion here, a few billions there and eventually we’ll know how the brain works. The billions are Euros and dollars. The “there” are two projects aimed at learning how the human brain works. Even President Obama got into the act a while ago to mention in the State of […]
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Glia brain cells: Not just infrastructure

So many stories about this recent neuroscience research begin with – “human brain cells make mice smarter” – and miss the point of the research almost entirely. It’s not about mice. It’s about a type of human brain cells, glia, which are just now coming into focus for neuroscience. For those that understand the prolog, […]
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Rethink the brain: More evidence for the tripartite synapse

The star (fish) shaped astrocyte cell….Credit: Neurorocker If you’ve had any exposure to how the brain and nervous system works, you probably know about synapses – the juncture where the end of one neuron almost meets the beginning of another neuron. The synapse is two neurons and the gap between them, the point where either […]
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Epigenetics in the brain: Evidence of methylation beyond cell division

Methylation is not a gasoline additive process or nor does it have anything to do with amphetamines. I mention this because methylation is proving to be significant. It is something that happens to your DNA and despite not being very well known by the public, research is showing it to be far more important than […]
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Sci-Fi Movie Review: Inception

[Inception. Directed by Christopher Nolan. Released July 16, 2010. DVD/Blu-Ray released. As usual, the review contains many spoilers.] I’m going to try something unusually, um, structural for this review. It’s in keeping with a structural notion of dream levels used in Inception and it may help shed some light on the divide that separates the […]
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A keystone discovery: Proteins and synaptic vesicles

It happens quite a lot in neuroscience that something can be described without really knowing why it’s doing something. Bear with me a bit, as what I’m about to describe is probably unfamiliar to most people and also very much concerns the nitty-gritty of how the cells (neurons) of the brain and nervous system work. […]
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Neuroscience: Memory tied to a specific protein complex

At times it must seem to neuroscientists that the enigma of memory reveals its secrets to them as if they were the proverbial blind men describing an elephant. “Ah yes, it has a hose, a very thick hose, so thick it’s almost like a tree trunk!” If only it were as easy to get the […]
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Connecting to neurons with semiconductor nanotubes

“Patching into the brain” is a staple of science fiction and you hear about it fairly often in neuroscience; connecting ‘wires’ into the brain somehow seems routine. It’s not. Scientists and sometimes doctors do lots of things with reading or probing the brain with external (on the skin) sensors. They also occasionally do neural implants […]
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