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Posts tagged “biology

Day #225: Class presentations

Presentation

Presentation

For the past week we have been utilizing online resources so that classes can continue while we are all social distancing. While this is means that we mostly use Zoom, we also have message boards and other resources that we can use. However, these resources are sometimes a poor substitute for in person classes. This is especially apparent when we have certain assignments for the class, such as a group presentation.

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Day #214: Know your spinal cord – The Recap

motor neuron histology

It’s day fifty-four and we’ve hit the end of our journey for this mini-series. For one last time, you can find all our posts in the neuroanatomy category. Everything comes to an end eventually and today I think we should do a small wrap up. This isn’t just a repeat of everything we went over though, we’re going to attempt to tie a lot of the topics together. So let’s give this a shot.

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Day #213: Know your spinal cord – Translating neural signals

whole brain and spinal cord dissected

whole brain and spinal cord dissected

Here we are on day fifty-three, we are nearing the end for sure. I was going to end the series today, but there is at least one more thing that I think will be interesting to cover. As always, you can find all of our posts in the neuroanatomy category, after all there are quite a few now. Today we are going to talk about how the brain and muscles use different signals to communicate. Basically, they speak different languages; let’s talk about what that means.

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Day #212: A small break

It was bound to happen, with the COVID-19 outbreak, my entire schedule has been shifting faster than I can keep up with it. I was going to force myself to write today, but I need a break. I’m exhausted both mentally and physically. There is a possibility I won’t be getting my stipend from the school this month, even though I’m still working, and I have assignments due soon, so I can’t dedicate the normal hour or so I would writing.

Friendly reminder, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and practice social distancing. Even if you’re healthy, you can infect people that are not healthy or worse, people who work with others who are not healthy. Don’t be selfish! It may seem stupid now, but if we don’t do these things then it will get a lot worse and no one wants that. We can get through this if we all work together.


Day #211: Know your spinal cord – Transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation

tsDSC simulation
tsDSC simulation

E amplitude distribution over the spinal cord and nerve surface. The color scale on the right is normalized with respect to the maximum of E amplitude in the spinal cord.

Well after our short break yesterday with my biweekly review paper, it’s back to the know your spinal cord series and we’re on day fifty-two! If you’re here for the first time, you can find the posts in this mini-series in the neuroanatomy category. We’ve taken a few twists and turns since we’ve started the series, but we’ve covered way more than I originally planned. We’ve covered how transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation is thought to work, that post focused on the type of spinal cord stimulation I’m researching. However, there are other ways to stimulate the cord. Transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) is a different way to stimulate and today we will talk about the difference.

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Day #209: Know your spinal cord – Microglia

macrophage eating a bactria
macrophage eating a bactria

We cover this in the post, but it’s so cool I had to use it for the featured image.

It’s day fifty-one of knowing your spinal cord! For those of you who just found us, fear not we have all these posts in reverse chronological order listed in our neuroanatomy category. For everyone else, lately we’ve been talking about glial cells. This came about from the post on glial scarring which made me realize we should probably define glia. There are four types of glial cells found in the spinal cord (that we know of) we’ve covered three of them already and today we are talking about the last kind, the microglia.

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Day #208: Know your spinal cord – Ependymocytes

ependymal cells
ependymal cells

Ependymal cells, which create cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), line the ventricles of the brain and central canal of the spinal cord. These cells are cuboidal to columnar and have cilia and microvilli on their surfaces to circulate and absorb CSF.

We made it to yet another milestone, day fifty in our know your spinal cord series! As usual, you can find each and every one of these posts neatly organized in reverse chronological order using our neuroanatomy category. For the past couple of posts, we’ve introduced the types of glial cells, probably a bit poorly, but they are just so complex we can only really focus on a few of the functions. Needless to say they are very important cells. Today we are talking about the third (of four) types of glial cells found in the spinal cord (and brain), that is the ependymocyte. Let’s take a look.

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Day #207: Know your spinal cord – Astrocytes

upregulated spinal cord astrocytes
upregulated spinal cord astrocytes

SNL induces MCP-1 upregulation in spinal cord astrocytes (A–C)MCP-1 expression in the spinal cord of naïve animals (A) and SNL animals at 3 days (B) and 10 days (C). Scale bar, 200 μm. (D–F) High magnification images of (A–C), indicated in the white boxes of A–C, show the dorsal horn of the ipsilateral spinal cord. Scale bar, 100 μm. (G–I) Double staining shows that MCP-1 is colocalized with GFAP, a marker for astrocytes (G), but not with NeuN, a marker for neurons (H) or OX42, marker for microglia (I). Scale bar, 50 μm. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3623-08.2009

Day forty-nine in the spinal cord series! You can find all the posts in this series in our super useful neuroanatomy category. A couple of posts back we introduced glial scarring, one of the problems we need to overcome to help people with spinal cord injuries. That led to the realization that we needed to introduce the glial cells, so yesterday we covered the oligodendrocytes and today we are talking about the astrocyte. Now that we have some background of how we got here, let’s introduce today’s topic.

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Day #206: Know your spinal cord – Oligodendrocytes

Oligodendrocyte wrapped around axons of several nerves

Oligodendrocyte wrapped around axons of several nerves

We made it to day forty-eight! As always, the neuroanatomy category will help you find each and every post in the spinal cord series. It’s all really good stuff! We mentioned yesterday that this was coming, we’re going to do a quick breakdown of the types of glial cells just to make understanding the glial scarring post easier. Plus it helps to understand the functions of glial cells in general when we talk about things that could go wrong. With that, let’s get into oligodendrocytes!

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Day #205: Know your spinal cord – Glial scarring

Spinal cord regeneration
Spinal cord regeneration

Previously injured nerve fibers (red) are shown regrowing through a dense astrocyte scar (green). UCLA research shows that astrocyte scars actually help support nerve fiber regeneration. You can read more about the study from UCLA here.

Here we are at day forty-seven of spinal cord posts. We are definitely wrapping up our series sad to say, maybe we can get to day fifty, that would be a nice round number to stop at. For those of you who want to read all the other posts, the neuroanatomy category has everything in reverse chronological order and will teach you everything from the medullary pyramids, the cauda equina, and all the stuff in between. Today we are talking about glial scarring and why it’s such a problem a topic I realized we should touch on after talking about the problems with invasive spinal stimulation methods yesterday.

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Day #204: Know your spinal cord – Invasive stimulation techniques

paddle implant

It’s day forty-six in our spinal cord series. While we’re nearing the end (maybe), there are still a few things to cover. First, if you’re new, you can find all of the posts in the neuroanatomy category for when you need a quick spinal cord fix. I’ve been debating about this post for some time, but I figure we might as well cover it since we’re here. Today we are going to talk briefly about invasive spinal stimulation and what the future might hold.

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Day #203: Know your spinal cord – Compound action potentials

Action potential recording
Action potential recording

Image from: Get body smart

Day forty-five of the know your spinal cord series is here! With so many posts, you may be wondering how to find them all. Fear not, we have a super helpful neuroanatomy category for all your spinal cord needs. For the past few posts we’ve looked at some very interesting tools to probe the spinal cord. We’ve seen that there are quite a few ways we can go about it, but more importantly they all tell us something slightly different. Today we are looking at the product of that stimulation, the compound action potential.

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Day #202: Know your spinal cord – Transcutaneous Spinal Stimulation

TSS model

Welcome to day forty-four in the know your spinal cord series! As usual all of our posts are in a super easy to find neuroanatomy category. Now that we’ve covered our into into diagnostic tools to probe the spinal cord, let’s look at some of the ways we are working to help treat spinal cord injuries. Today we’re looking at a heavy hitter so to speak and something my research is focused on, transcutaneous spinal stimulation (TSS). Let’s take a look!

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Day #201: Know your spinal cord – The V-wave

spine

We’ve made it to day forty-three of our know your spinal cord series! While that is a lot of posts, we’ve made it super simple for you to find all of them with our neuroanatomy category. Lately, we’ve looked at several different tools in our spinal cord probing toolbox. We’ve seen all sorts of different ways to create a response, but we are still missing one important tool for our exploration into the unknown spinal cord world and that is what we are going to talk about today!

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Day #200: Know your spinal cord – Somatosensory evoked potentials

Somatosensory Evoked Potentials
Somatosensory Evoked Potentials

Somatosensory evoked potentials travel from peripheral nerves to the brain and we can record the response along the spinal cord and the brain non-invasively.

We’re back again with day forty-two of spinal cord knowledge series and day 200 in our 365 days of academia series! A friendly reminder that you can find each and every one of these posts in our very helpful neuroanatomy category. Yesterday we looked at motor evoked potentials, or electrical pulses that we create which travel from the brain to the muscles. Today we are looking at the almost reverse, signals we create originating in the peripheral nerves and arriving at the somatosensory cortex of the brain.

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Day #199: Know your spinal cord – Motor evoked potentials

Transcutaneous magnetic stimulation of the brain
Transcutaneous magnetic stimulation of the brain

Transcutaneous magnetic stimulation (left) stimulating a portion of the motor cortex, which travels down the spine and activates a muscle (right)

Day forty-one in the know your spinal cord series. While the number of posts is going up, we made them easy to find by using our awesome neuroanatomy category! Maybe we did this a bit backwards, but it’s our series and this was the order we did it in. Yesterday we covered cervicomedullary motor evoked potentials, which is a subset of what we will be covering today. So again, slightly out of order, but hey let’s look at motor evoked potentials.

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Day #198: Know your spinal cord – Cervicomedullary motor evoked potentials

Brainstem

Brainstem

We made it, day forty in the know your spinal cord series! I honestly didn’t think we would get this far into things, but here we are. As per usual, if you’re new you can find all of the posts in this series in our super helpful neuroanatomy category! For the rest of you, or the ones interested in this topic, today we are looking at yet another tool in uncovering the secrets of the spinal cord.

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Day #197: Know your spinal cord – The F-wave

H-reflex vs F-wave

It’s day thirty-nine of our know your spinal cord series and we’re only touching the surface (so to speak)! If you’re just joining us, then welcome! You can find all of our spinal cord knowledge in the handy neuroanatomy category. Well as these things typically happen, yesterday brought up an interesting gap in our knowledge base. While I introduced the H-reflex, we never talked about the F-wave! So of course yesterday’s post probably left some of you scratching your head as to what an F-wave even is, fear not we’re going to clear that up today!

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Day #195: Know your spinal cord – The spinotectal tract

Anterolateral-view-of-lumbar-spinal-cord

Welcome to day thirty-eight in the know your spinal cord series. As always, you can find the entire know your spinal cord series exclusively listed under our neuroanatomy category. We’ve amassed quite a bit of spinal information and I’ve gotten into more detail than I originally planned, which is part of the reason why we are going back and covering some of the things we skipped over. Today is one of those topics, we will be talking about the spinotectal tract, not to be confused with the tectospinal tract, which we already covered.

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Day #194: Know your spinal cord – The spinoreticular tract

vertebrae of the spine

vertebrae of the spine

We’ve arrived at day thirty-seven in the spinal cord series and we’re still covering new ground. You can find all of our sweet spinal cord action in the neuroanatomy category, which at this point is pretty extensive for a high-level look. Yesterday we talked about the reticulospinal tracts so today we are talking about the sister tract, the spinoreticular tract. Are they related, or is it all just in the name?

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Day #193: Know your spinal cord – The reticulospinal tracts

reconstruction of the nuclear masses of the brain stem
reconstruction of the nuclear masses of the brain stem

Reconstruction of the nuclear masses of the brain stem

It’s day thirty-six in our spinal cord series and I yesterday I lied, we’re not done quite yet. First, as always we have a super helpful neuroanatomy category for anyone wanting to read the posts from this series. For the rest of us, today we’re talking about the reticulospinal tracts, yes tracts with an s. There is a good reason for this, but you’ll have to read on to see why. (more…)


Day #192: Know your spinal cord – The Tectospinal tract

Cervical spinal cord cross-section

Cervical spinal cord cross-section

Welcome to day thirty-five in the know your spinal cord series! For the new people, we have a whole neuroanatomy category dedicated to these posts! For everyone else (or those of you just interested in today’s topic, this is going to be on another smaller tract of the spinal cord we haven’t covered yet. Today we are talking about the tectospinal tract, not to be confused with the spinotectal tract, so let’s get started.

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Day #191: Know your spinal cord – The Vestibulospinal tract

cranial nerves
cranial nerves

No, we’re not moving away from the spine, but we are talking about the cranial nerves.

It’s day thirty-four in our spinal cord series. As usual, if you’re new here welcome and you can find each and every post in our series in the handy neuroanatomy category! All the posts are in reverse chronological order and while we don’t technically have a specific order, you should probably start with the medullary pyramids and work your way forward. If you’re here, then you probably are interested in the vestibulospinal tract, something we haven’t covered yet, but fear not, we are going to do that now.

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Day #190: Know your spinal cord – The landmarks

human cervical spinal cord cross section
human cervical spinal cord cross section

A human cervical spinal cord slice. Once you’ve read this post, you should be able to identify the major parts and tell which side is the front of the cord.

Welcome to day thirty-three in our series. For those of you who are just finding us, we have every one of these posts in our neuroanatomy category in reverse chronological order. Today we’re going to backtract (get it?) a little and go over something basic, but something we’ve skipped over to this point. We never really talked about the landmarks of a spinal cord slice. So today, we are going to take a detour and go over spinal cord features.

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Day #189: Know your spinal cord – The Ramus

dorsal rami innervation

Today is day thirty-two in our know your spinal cord series. If you’re just joining in, as I usually do in the intro, we have a whole neuroanatomy category just for these posts so you don’t have to dig for them! Today we are covering a couple of structures that fall under the same broad category, ramus. What are they and what do they have to do with the spinal cord? Well that’s what we’re about to find out!

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Day #188: Know your spinal cord – The spinal nerves (revisited)

spinal roots

spinal roots

Here we are at day thirty one of knowing your spinal cord and we’re still going strong. I’m very happy that I cataloged all of these posts in the super handy neuroanatomy category, which should make it easy for you to find each and every one of them! Today we’re talking about something we’ve touched on in the past, but deserves its own post, the spinal nerves. We need to cover this for the next couple of posts, where things get a little… odd. So let’s get started!

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Day #187: Know your spinal cord – The anterior white commissure

Cross section of human spinal cord
Cross section of human spinal cord

Cross section through human spinal cord (lumbar region, L1) showing motor neurons. Astrocytes and oligodendrocytes are labeled ‘A’ and ‘O’, respectively. The objective magnification used is 40x.

Welcome to day thirty of knowing your spinal cord. I feel like that is a lot of spinal cord knowledge for just covering the basics. In any case, if you’re just finding us, welcome! I’ve created a whole new neuroanatomy category just for these posts so you can find them easy and they are in reverse chronological order. Is the anterior white commissure a tract of the spinal cord? Well not really, but it does have an important job and we keep referencing it, so let’s talk about what it does exactly.

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Day #186: Know your spinal cord – The spino-olivary tract

Spinal cord slice
Spinal cord slice

Spinal cord anatomy

Day twenty-nine, wow does time fly! We have over four weeks worth of fun spinal knowledge for you to tap into, all in reverse chronological order in our handy neuroanatomy category! If you read the title, you know we’re back on tract (see what I did there?). Today we’re talking the spino-olivary tract, or is it the olivospinal tract? Keep reading to find out!

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Day #185: Know your spinal cord – Cauda equina syndrome

Cuada equina disection

Here we are on day twenty-eight of knowing your spinal cord. A friendly reminder, the entire series has its own neuroanatomy category where you can catch up on any posts you missed or if you just want a reminder on something we already covered. We’ve already covered quite a bit of spinal disorders, but there is one more that I want to talk about and like our series where we started at the top of the cord and worked our way down, we are now going to cover damage to the bottom of the cord, specifically the cauda equina.

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Day #184: Know your spinal cord – Motor neuron disease

ALS2

Kultschitzky staining was used here and shows marked symmetrical demyelination (whitening regions) in the anteriolateral roots (especially pyramidal tract) of the spinal cord 

It’s day twenty-six already! For those of you who are just finding us, you can find all of the posts in our super cool neuroanatomy category. We’ve already covered a lot of spinal disorders, but one of the larger diseases that we have yet to cover is motor neuron disease. Technically a family of diseases, we will look at the commonalities and causes, so with that introduction, let’s get going.

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Day #183: Know your spinal cord – The H-reflex

Diagram showing how we measure the H-reflex
Diagram showing how we measure the H-reflex

We measure the H-reflex by applying an electrical stimulus (S) behind the knee, the ground (G) gets placed around the soleus and the recording electrode (R) is placed inline below, this is the route the nerve takes.

Yesterday we had a bit of a break so I could share a critical review paper. That means this is day twenty-five of the know your spinal cord series! We’ve also hit the halfway mark in our 365 days of academia challenge! If you’re new here, you can find all of the fun spinal cord knowledge we’ve amassed by checking out our neuroanatomy category! We are going to take a step away from spinal cord disorders to talk about something we kind of covered, but deserves a more in-depth exploration. This is all you wanted to know about the H-reflex, so let’s dive in.

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Day #181: Know your spinal cord – Tabes dorsalis

vintage anatomy

We’ve made it to day twenty-four of fun spinal cord knowledge! If you’re just joining us, we have a whole new neuroanatomy category for you to find all the posts in this series in reverse chronological order. If you want to know everything, then you’ll want to start at the beginning with the medullary pyramids. Over the past week in our series we’ve been talking about spinal cord disorders and today we are looking at something called tabes dorsalis, let’s begin!

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Day #180: Know your spinal cord – Lichtheim’s disease

Nitrous-Oxide-Induced-Subacute-Combined-Degeneration

MRI showing Lichtheim’s disease caused from nitrous oxide (we show another case below)

It’s day twenty-three in our little series called know your spinal cord. For those just finding us, you can read the rest of the posts in our special neuroanatomy category created just for these posts! If I’ve counted correctly, this will be the seventh post on different spinal cord disorders and today we are covering something called Lichtheim’s disease, so let’s take a look.

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Day #114: Classifier Update

NARXNET Classifier-Raw out

Behold! My amazing predictive power!! *insert evil laugh here*

It’s been a long and exhaustive road to get to here. As you may recall, I’ve given several updates already on my progress and I THINK I’ve finally hit success. In fact, I know I have, the problem now? Well what the neural net saw to make the predictions is a mystery to me, so I don’t know why or how it works… yet.

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Day #54 : The Science Behind Real Zombies – 365 DoA

Zombies: Science Fiction vs. Fact

zombies ahead

Time for a break from stochastic processes, at least for the moment. Every year here we update and post our favorite Halloween tradition!  So today we bring you the science fact and fiction behind the undead. Zombies, those brain loving little things are everywhere. Sure, we are all familiar with the classic  zombie, but did you know that we aren’t the only zombie lovers out there? It turns out that nature has its own special types of zombies, but this isn’t a science fiction movie, this is science fact! Sometimes fact can be scarier than fiction, so let’s dive in. Let’s talk zombies.

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Synthetic biology breakthrough creates biosensors on demand

biosensors synthetic biology

biosensors synthetic biology

Biosensors are powerful tools in synthetic biology for engineering metabolic pathways or controlling synthetic and native genetic circuits in bacteria. Scientists have had difficulty developing a method to engineer “designer” biosensor proteins that can precisely sense and report the presence of specific molecules, which has so far limited the number and variety of biosensor designs able to precisely regulate cell metabolism, cell biology, and synthetic gene circuits.

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What’s that!? Brain network that controls, redirects attention identified

social media overload

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have found that key parts of the human brain network that give us the power to control and redirect our attention–a core cognitive ability–may be unique to humans. The research suggests that the network may have evolved in response to increasingly complex social cues.

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Long-term memories are maintained by prion-like proteins

memories in the brain

memories in the brain

Research from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has uncovered further evidence of a system in the brain that persistently maintains memories for long periods of time. And paradoxically, it works in the same way as mechanisms that cause mad cow disease, kuru, and other degenerative brain diseases.

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Digesting bread and pasta can release biologically active molecules

gluten free bread

Biologically active molecules released by digesting bread and pasta can survive digestion and potentially pass through the gut lining, suggests new research. The study reveals the molecules released when real samples of bread and pasta are digested, providing new information for research into gluten sensitivity.

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Study finds pet owners reluctant to face up to their cats’ kill count

More awesomeness like this can be found at theoatmeal.com

More awesomeness like this can be found at theoatmeal.com

Cats are increasingly earning themselves a reputation as wildlife killers with estimates of animals killed every year by domestic cats in the UK numbering into the millions. This new study on the attitudes of cat owners suggests that proposals to keep cats indoors in order to preserve wildlife would not be well received.

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Milk proteins may protect against cardiovascular disease

milk advertisement The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that results in browned foods like seared steaks and toasted bread. When proteins and sugars are mixed together and heated, new chemical compounds are formed. Some are responsible for new flavors and some, according to a new study, may protect us against cardiovascular disease. (more…)


Researchers find essential fats for brain growth

researchers find essential fat for brain growth

The difference between a brain with a normal Mfsd2a gene and a brain with a mutated Mfsd2a gene.
Image credit goes to: Guemez-Gamboa et al./ Nature Genetics

New research has proved that certain special fats found in blood are essential for human brain growth and function. The two studies showed that mutations in the protein Mfsd2a causes impaired brain development in humans. Mfsd2a is the transporter in the brain for a special type of fat called lysophosphatidylcholines (LPCs) — composed of essential fatty acids like omega-3. These studies show, for the first time, the crucial role of these fats in human brain growth and function.

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Which is most valuable: Gold, cocaine or rhino horn?

These are elephants in Botswana

These are elephants in Botswana. Image credit goes to: Blaire Van Valkenburgh

Many of the world’s largest herbivores — including several species of elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and gorillas — are in danger of becoming extinct. And if current trends continue, the loss of these animals would have drastic implications not only for the species themselves, but also for other animals and the environments and ecosystems in which they live, according to a new report by an international team of scientists.

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