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Adrian Wale
Mind, power, and pop culture.
Mind, power, and pop culture.
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The Reason For Hemispheric Dominance in the Brain

Researchers demonstrated in pigeons that the dominance is caused by slight differences in temporal activity patterns in both hemispheres.

The research is in Cell Reports. (full open access)
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Glimpses Into Brain Uncover Neurological Basis for Processing Social Information

Researchers are developing a clearer picture than ever before of how the animal brain processes social information.
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Asian Elephants Could Be the Math Kings of the Jungle

Asian elephants demonstrate numeric ability which is closer to that observed in humans rather than in other animals.

The research is in Journal of Ethology. (full open access)
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Two Seemingly Opposing Forces in the Brain Cooperate to Enhance Memory Formation

Hebbian plasticity reacts to activity at the synapses by inciting them to get stronger while HSP reacts to it by making them weaker.

The research is in iScience. (full open access)
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Memory Brainwaves Look the Same in Sleep and Wakefulness

Identical brain mechanisms are responsible for triggering memory in both sleep and wakefulness.

The research is in Science. (full open access)
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Researchers Uncover the Mathematics of Brain Waves

The technique generalizes Evolutionary Game Theory, a mathematical technique historically used in the formulation of decision making in war gaming.

The research is in Frontiers in Physiology. (full open access)
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Fight or flight? We've all been there. Now we have an understanding of how it works.
There is such a thing in neuroscience as a 'gut feeling.'
We don't quite know what it's saying yet, but we have an idea.
"Gut signals are transmitted at epithelial-neural synapses through the release of … serotonin."
Have you ever had a 'gut feeling?' That moment when you just knew? Did you ever wonder why that was? Research is starting to make inroads towards an answer.

A recent study led by Melanie Maya Kaelberer of Duke along with a team of others looked at mice to determine how the stomach communicated with the brain.
Historically, it was believed that the stomach communicated with the brain indirectly, typically through something called neuropeptide signaling (peptides are like proteins but smaller; neurons use neuropeptides to communicate); however, the results from this study suggest something much more direct, much more nuanced, and a little bit more complicated.
It was found that gut signals are transmitted at epithelial-neural synapses through the release of serotonin.
Let's break that down, first by quoting the National Institute of Health: Epithelial cells form barriers that separate different biological compartments in the body. They have a role in regulating what is communicated and what is carried between these different compartments.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that is released when a signal arrives from somewhere else in the body and acts as a bridge for the signal to move from one neuron to the next.
What makes the result of the study noteworthy is the fact that, in addition to neuropeptides further studies revealed that enteroendocrine cells activate sensory neurons within tens to hundreds of milliseconds, a time scale typical of synaptic transmission rather than neuropeptide signaling.
In other words: something arrived in the stomach and it was known, fast. Think of the speed with which your body lets you know that a fly has landed in your skin and think what it means that your body knows what's in its stomach at comparable speeds. (We know that gut bacteria responds to exercise, but this study raises an asterisk of a question all its own: how quickly does gut bacteria respond to exercise in real time?)
It's hypothesized that the reason why this happens is to relay where something is in the gut and how it exists in space-time, whether it's just arrived, how it's immediately reacting to the digestive properties of the stomach, and so on.
Benjamin Hoffman and Ellen A. Lumpkin found the results intriguing, writing in a review of the study that it led them to wonder What are the molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitter release in enteroendocrine cells?
Who specifically mediates this synaptic transmission? And how are these neuron signals modulated in a stomach full of acid, anyway? What happens when someone has an intestinal disorder?
Perhaps the answer is already known to someone deep within the depths of their gut.
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Zombie Cells Found in Mouse Brains Prior To Cognitive Loss

Study reports senescent cells accumulate in certain brain cells prior to cognitive loss.

The research is in Nature. (full access paywall)
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Octopuses Given Ecstasy Reveal Genetic Link to Evolution of Social Behaviors in Humans

The serotonin-binding transporter is also known to be the place where the drug MDMA binds to brain cells and alters mood.

The research is in Current Biology. (full open access)
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A Neurological Synergy in Explaining the Processing of Optical Illusions

Research uncovered a neurological synergy that occurs in visual adaptation, a phenomenon in which perception is altered by prolonged exposure to a stimulus.

The research is in Journal of Vision. (full open access)
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