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  • News in Brief

    Rogue immune cells can infiltrate old brains

    Immune cells can storm into the brains of older mice, where these normally helpful cells seem to be up to no good. The result, described July 3 in Nature, raises the possibility that immune cells may have a role in aging.

    Anne Brunet of Stanford University School of Medicine and colleagues studied gene activity to identify all sorts of cells in a particular spot in mice brains — the...

    07/03/2019 - 13:00 Health, Neuroscience
  • News

    This brain region may be why some robots send chills down your spine

    A new analysis of brain scans may explain why hyperrealistic androids and animated characters can be creepy.

    By measuring people’s neural activity as they viewed pictures of humans and robots, researchers identified a region of the brain that seems to underlie the “uncanny valley” effect — the unsettling sensation sometimes caused by robots or animations that look almost, but not quite,...

    07/02/2019 - 12:00 Neuroscience, Technology
  • News in Brief

    Vision cells can pull double duty in the brain, detecting both color and shape

    Some nerve cells in the brain are multitaskers, responding to both color and shape, a survey of over 4,000 neurons in the visual systems of macaque monkeys finds.

    The finding, described in the June 28 Science, counters earlier ideas that vision cells nestled in the back of the brain each handle information about only one aspect of sight: an object’s color or its orientation, an element...

    07/01/2019 - 13:04 Health, Neuroscience
  • News

    In mice, a high-fat diet cuts a ‘brake’ used to control appetite

    A gut-busting diet may set the brain up for more of the same.

    After mice ate fatty food for just two weeks, cells in their brains that send a “stop eating” signal were quieter than those in mice that didn’t eat high-fat chow, researchers report in the June 28 Science. The result helps untangle the complex relationship between food and appetite, one that can become muddled when people...

    06/27/2019 - 14:00 Health, Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    Mice and bats’ brains sync up as they interact with their own kind

    When animals are together, their brain activity aligns. These simpatico signals, described in bats and mice, bring scientists closer to understanding brains as they normally exist — enmeshed in complex social situations.

    Researchers know that neural synchrony emerges in people who are talking, taking a class together and even watching the same movie. But scientists tend to study human...

    06/20/2019 - 11:00 Neuroscience
  • News

    Female rats face sex bias too

    When researchers release a new finding about the brain, it’s often mice or rats who have run the mazes and taken the tests for science. People might wonder: Are rodents good substitutes for humans? Maybe for men, but what about women?

    That’s less likely, because most neuroscience experiments don’t use female rodents — a fact one scientist says comes from outdated ideas that should go...

    06/18/2019 - 08:00 Neuroscience
  • News

    Extra fingers, often seen as useless, can offer major dexterity advantages

    An extra finger can be incredibly handy. Two people born with six fingers per hand can tie their shoes, adroitly manage phones and play a complicated video game — all with a single hand, a study shows.

    These people’s superior dexterity, described June 3 in Nature Communications, suggests that instead of being seen as aberrations that ought to be surgically removed, extra fingers can...

    06/12/2019 - 07:00 Health, Neuroscience
  • News

    A new experiment didn’t find signs of dreaming in brain waves

    In a nighttime experiment called the Dream Catcher, people’s dreams slipped right through the net. Looking at only the brain wave activity of sleeping people, scientists weren’t able to reliably spot a dreaming brain.

    The details of that leaky net, described May 27 at bioRxiv.org, haven’t yet been reviewed by other scientists. And the results are bound to be heavily scrutinized, as they...

    06/04/2019 - 07:00 Neuroscience
  • News

    Being bilingual is great. But it may not boost some brain functions

    Advantages of speaking a second language are obvious: easier logistics when traveling, wider access to great literature and, of course, more people to talk with. Some studies have also pointed to the idea that polyglots have stronger executive functioning skills, brain abilities such as switching between tasks and ignoring distractions.

    But a large study of bilingual children in the U.S...

    05/24/2019 - 07:00 Health, Neuroscience
  • Soapbox

    A cognitive neuroscientist warns that the U.S. justice system harms teen brains

    A teenager’s brain does not magically mature into its reasoned, adult form the night before his or her 18th birthday. Instead, aspects of brain development stretch into a person’s 20s — a protracted fine-tuning with serious implications for young people caught in the U.S. justice system, argues cognitive neuroscientist B.J. Casey of Yale University.

    In the May 22 Neuron, Casey describes...

    05/22/2019 - 11:00 Health, Neuroscience, Science & Society