CREB Provides Clues in Search for a Memory Trace

The search for a memory trace', the chemical and biophysical changes that occur in the brain when we form memories, has been one of the most researched areas in neuroscience. Despite this, many important questions remain unanswered, such as: what factors influence whether a neuron will be incorporated into a memory network, and indeed, is there a network of neurons responsible for a specific memory?

Want High Speed Internet? Go Organic!

With the number of internet users going up daily, there is an increasing demand for high speed and reliable internet access. Current telecommunications networks must convert optical signals to electrical signals, a somewhat inefficient process. An international team of researchers from Lehigh University, University of Karlsruhe in Germany, Ghent University in Belgium and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich say that a full optical pathway could provide a tremendous boost to data processing. They are getting closer to this goal,by going organic! They have discovered an organic silicon material, of which a description was published on the Nature Photonics website on March 15th, with unprecedented optical quality.

Action-Packed Video Games Sharpen Teenager's Vision

Spending hours in front of a TV playing video games may actually be good for teenagers. Previous studies have shown that these games enhance motor skills and reaction time, but this time around, a study published in April's issue of Nature Neuroscience demonstrates that playing violent video games improves visual functions in young males. The study was a joint effort between researchers from the University of Rochester and Tel Aviv University.

Self-Repairing Car Paint: Just Add Sun

Visits to auto body shops might become obsolete after Marek Urban, a researcher from the University of Southern Mississippi, announced the development of a car paint that heals itself from scratches when exposed to sunlight. By adding a chemically modified version of chitosan, a crab shell component, to polyurethane, Urban's team obtained the remarkable coating. Their study was published in the March 13 issue of Science.

Intact Proteins Found in an 80-millon-year-old Duck-billed Dinosaur

Two years ago, Mary Schweitzer stirred paleontologists all over the world after announcing that she had recovered intact proteins from a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex. Her findings defied the general belief that proteins degrade over time, and hence were received amidst much skepticism and controversy. However, Schweitzer's paper in the May 1st edition of Science confirms that her techniques revolutionized paleontology. Along with her team from North Carolina State University, she has recently found intact proteins in an 80-million-year-old duck-billed dinosaur.

New Mathematical Formula Could Prevent Devastation from Tsunamis

01 November 2008 - The memories of the violent tsunami that ravaged the coastal areas of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia in 2004 are still very vivid, with the victims still in the process of rebuilding their communities. There is, however, hope of minimizing casualties if such a disaster were to happen again, in the unlikely form of a mathematical formula.

Making a Difference Through Preparation

I once heard the story of ten medical students that went forth to their biochemistry class. And five of them were wise and five were foolish. They that were foolish, took their cell phones and laptops, but failed to bring their pencils, erasers, and calculators. But, the wise always took their pencils, erasers, and calculators with them. While the class proceeded, they all listened attentively. And, during the middle of the class was a cry made, "Behold, the professor cometh with a surprise exam!" Then all of the students arose, and got ready their material. And the foolish said unto the wise, "Give us your pencils; for we have none of our own." But the wise answered, saying, "Not so! Lest there be not enough for us and you: but go rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves." And while they went to buy, the exam commenced and the professor shut the door. Afterward came also the foolish students saying, "Professor, open the door to us." But he answered and said unto them, "I know you not."

A Kappa Opioid Model of Atypical Altered Consciousness and Psychosis: U50488, DOI, AC90179 Effects on Prepulse Inhibition and Locomotion in Mice

Author:  Michael A. Ruderman
Institution:  Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego; Department of Psychology and Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz
Date:  July 2009

Abstract

Sensorimortor gating and locomotion are behaviors that reflect pre-attentive sensory filtering and higher order, top-down, sensory processing, respectively. These processes are thought to affect either the perception of novelty in an environment (filtering) or cognition (higher order processing), salient features of models of altered states of consciousness (ASC). Drugs with highly selective receptor affinities that produce ASC can help to establish neural correlates, pathways, and mechanisms underlying ASC. Furthermore, screening for substances that selectively reverse drug-induced sensory processing departures is valuable for development of experimental antipsychotics. This study investigated the anomalous opioid sub-type, the kappa opioid (KA) system, within the two ASC models. Significant interaction and reversal effects between KA and the serotonin/2A (5-HT2A) system – the serotonin sub-type associated with classical psychedelics – were observed in three BPM measures. These measures showed that KA activation-induced effects could be reversed by 5-HT2A deactivation. These results suggest that KA could function as an atypical antipsychotic medications and/or as a screening tool for new antipsychotic medicines. The experimental work for this study comprised dose-response and reversal experiments with drugs that activate and deactivate kappa opioid and serotonin systems in the two behavioral models for the first time in mice.