The interdisciplinary project combines expertise from engineering, neuroscience, applied microbiology, and physics to explore the molecular connection between the enteric and central nervous systems. While current technology is unable to effectively study gut microbiome-triggered cellular and molecular signaling up close and in real time, the platform created by the UMD team proposes to fill this knowledge gap by developing microsensors to measure real-time data on how cells and molecules communicate and connecting these to a proxy for the human nervous system.
Organophosphates are among the most commonly used classes of pesticides in the United States, despite mounting evidence linking prenatal exposure to the chemicals to poorer cognition and behavior problems in children. Research now suggests that teenagers estimated to have higher levels of prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides from agricultural spraying exhibit altered brain activity compared to their peers.
Currently available treatments for tics in Tourette Syndrome include behavior therapy and pharmaceuticals, but these are not effective for everyone. Now, a study conducted by Yale researchers has trained adolescents with Tourette Syndrome to control their tics through an imaging technique that allows patients to monitor the function of their own brain in real time. The study is the first of its kind to show that real-time fMRI has potential as a treatment.
Recently, the NIH BRAIN Initiative held a “Show Us Your Brain Contest!”, which invited researchers involved to submit the coolest images of their research coming out of the Initiative. The final installment showcasing this imagery is a video that outlines a new strategy for restoring loss of central vision in people with age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older.
Many patients with concussion have normal CT scans and are discharged from the hospital without follow-up. But a blood test that is currently under development may flag concussion in these CT-negative patients at just a fraction of the cost of a brain scan. Such a test would enable patients to be evaluated for long-term complications.
The organoids, or clusters of living brain cells, are about the size of a pinhead and contain hundreds of thousands of cells in a variety of types, with each type producing the same chemical and electrical signals as cells in our own brains. As the organoids are maturing, however, researchers have found that these signals are changing in ways that resemble the changes in the developing brains of premature babies.
This episode of the NSF's Discovery Files podcast explains how a research team at Stanford is studying parrots in the interest of creating better robots. They are trying to mimic one of nature's best mimickers in order learn how to land like a bird. Why, they ask, are parrots able to land on such a wide variety of surfaces? And what are their limits? Can parrots find stable footing, say, on a branch covered in Teflon?