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  • News

    Promise and perils of marijuana deserve more scientific scrutiny

    Marijuana’s medical promise deserves closer, better-funded scientific scrutiny, a new state-of-the-science report concludes.

    The report, released January 12 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, D.C., calls for expanding research on potential medical applications of cannabis and its products, including marijuana and chemical components...

    01/12/2017 - 15:02 Health, Mental Health, Science & Society
  • News

    Shape-shifting molecule aids memory in fruit flies

    A protein that can switch shapes and accumulate inside brain cells helps fruit flies form and retrieve memories, a new study finds.

     

    Such shape-shifting is the hallmark move of prions — proteins that can alternate between two forms and aggregate under certain conditions. In fruit flies’ brain cells, clumps of the prionlike protein called Orb2 stores long-lasting...

    11/03/2016 - 14:12 Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • Editor's Note

    Math offers new view of brain and its disorders

    Of the many disorders that can afflict the brain, schizophrenia and autism are among the most inscrutable. The long scientific searches to explain their causes have turned up many clues and inspired various theories. But no clear answers have emerged.

    A new way of thinking about these disorders has begun to show promise, Laura Sanders reports. This approach conceptualizes the...

    05/18/2016 - 10:15 Mental Health, Neuroscience, Anthropology
  • Feature

    Bayesian reasoning implicated in some mental disorders

    From within the dark confines of the skull, the brain builds its own version of reality. By weaving together expectations and information gleaned from the senses, the brain creates a story about the outside world. For most of us, the brain is a skilled storyteller, but to spin a sensible yarn, it has to fill in some details itself.

    “The brain is a guessing machine, trying at each moment...

    05/13/2016 - 11:37 Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • Feature

    Gun research faces roadblocks and a dearth of data

    Buying a handgun in Connecticut means waiting — lots of waiting. First comes an eight-hour safety course. Then picking up an application at a local police department. Review of the application (which includes a background check and fingerprinting) can take up to eight weeks. If approved, the state issues a temporary permit, which the buyer trades in at state police headquarters for a permanent...

    05/03/2016 - 15:00 Science & Society, Mental Health, Health
  • Editor's Note

    Racing for answers on Zika

    Sometimes science does not move fast enough, despite much hard work and effort. That’s true in the case of the Zika virus outbreak currently marching through the Americas. As we report in a collection of stories, much remains unclear, including the relationship between Zika infection and microcephaly and how best to combat the mosquitoes that spread the disease. So far, however, evidence...

    03/23/2016 - 12:45 Microbiology, Health, Mental Health, Nutrition
  • Feature

    Microbes can play games with the mind

    The 22 men took the same pill for four weeks. When interviewed, they said they felt less daily stress and their memories were sharper. The brain benefits were subtle, but the results, reported at last year’s annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, got attention. That’s because the pills were not a precise chemical formula synthesized by the pharmaceutical industry.

    The capsules...

    03/23/2016 - 09:30 Health, Mental Health
  • News

    Lead’s damage can last a lifetime, or longer

    The people of Flint, Mich., are drinking bottled water now, if they can get it. Volunteers deliver it door-to-door and to local fire stations.

    The goal is to keep the city’s residents from ingesting so much lead. Success – or lack thereof – could have consequences not just now, but for generations to come.

    Late last year, scientists raised alarms over a link between the city’s lead...

    02/15/2016 - 07:00 Health, Mental Health, Technology
  • News

    Don’t blame winter for that bleak mood

    Winter doesn’t deserve its dour reputation as the season of depression, scientists say.

    Rates of major depression, a psychiatric condition marked by intense sadness, hopelessness, insomnia and a general loss of interest or pleasure, don’t markedly change from one season to another among U.S. adults, says a team led by psychologist Steven LoBello of Auburn University at Montgomery in...

    02/08/2016 - 07:00 Psychology, Mental Health
  • News

    Immune system gene leads to schizophrenia clue

    From the tangled web of schizophrenia biology, scientists have pulled out one tantalizing thread. Variants of a protein that helps snip connections between nerve cells in the brain may contribute to the disorder, scientists report January 27 in Nature.

    “It’s not the answer, but it’s an answer,” says psychiatrist and neuroscientist Henry Nasrallah of Saint...

    01/29/2016 - 12:57 Neuroscience, Biomedicine, Health, Mental Health