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  • News

    Missing gut microbes linked to childhood malnutrition

    In children suffering from malnutrition, the right mix of microbes might be what’s missing.

    The bacteria living in kids’ guts play a starring role in growth and development, three new studies published February 18 in Science and Cell suggest.

    Food matters, too, but not as much as people once thought, says biologist Brett Finlay of the University of British Columbia, who was not...

    02/18/2016 - 17:39 Microbes, Health, Human Development
  • News in Brief

    Re-creating womb sounds perks preemies’ attention

    WASHINGTON — Recordings of their mothers’ voices and heartbeats may help premature babies pay attention to speech, new research suggests.

    Premature babies do better if their acoustical environment approximates what the babies would have heard in the womb, neuroscientist Amir Lahav said at a news conference February 13 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement...

    02/14/2016 - 11:47 Neuroscience, Human Development, Health
  • Science Ticker

    WHO declares international emergency for cases linked to Zika virus

    The recent spate of birth defects and neurological disorders linked to Zika virus infection constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern,” the World Health Organization declared February 1.

    The link between the mosquito-borne virus and birth defects has not been scientifically proven, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a press conference, but experts advising...

    02/01/2016 - 17:05 Health, Human Development
  • Science Ticker

    Monkeys with human gene show signs of autism

    Monkeys harboring a human gene associated with autism pace in circles, are anxious and don’t socialize normally, scientists report January 25 in Nature. These macaques may reveal insights into how autism affects the human brain, study coauthor Zilong Qiu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai said in a press briefing January 21.  

    Qiu and colleagues engineered monkeys to mimic...

    01/25/2016 - 11:00 Health, Human Development, Neuroscience
  • Introducing

    Shrub cells are true to form

    It didn’t take a lot of brainpower to come up with the name for a nerve cell that looks like a bushy, round tangle of fibers perched atop a nucleus. Meet the shrub cell. This botanically named cell, discovered in the brains of adult mice, made its formal debut in the Nov. 27 Science.

    The newly described cell lives in a particular nervy neighborhood — an area called layer 5 in the part of...

    01/06/2016 - 06:00 Neuroscience, Human Development
  • News in Brief

    Brain shapes come from mom and dad

    You can thank your parents for your funny-looking hippocampus. Genes influence the three-dimensional shape of certain brain structures, scientists report in a paper posted online December 1 at Showing a new way that genes help sculpt the brain opens up more ways to explore how the brain develops and operates.

    Earlier work linked genes to simple measurements of brain...

    12/10/2015 - 13:35 Neuroscience, Genetics, Human Development
  • News in Brief

    Virus spread by mosquitoes linked to rare birth defect

    A mosquito-borne virus may cause babies to be born with abnormally small heads. Zika virus, which first appeared in Brazil in May, causes fever, rash, vomiting, red eyes and, in some cases, death. Brazilian health officials believe that a Zika infection during pregnancy harms growing fetuses. Pregnant women hit by the virus may be more likely to give birth to babies with the rare birth defect...

    12/02/2015 - 17:00 Health, Human Development
  • News

    Adolescent brains open to change

    Under the carefully styled hair of a teenager, the brain is roiling with change. Some nerve cells are killed off, others are pruned back and still others are locked into place, a restyling that moves the brain closer to its adult form. This dramatic adolescent makeover represents a window of opportunity known as a sensitive period, allowing the brain to be selectively shaped by the outside...

    10/14/2015 - 14:40 Neuroscience, Human Development, Health
  • Science Ticker

    Bundles of cells hint at biological differences of autistic brains

    Brainlike cell bundles grown in a lab may expose some of the biological differences of autistic brains.

    Researchers chemically reprogrammed human stem cells into small bundles of functional brain cells that mimic the developing brain. These “organoids” appear to be different when built with cells from autistic patients compared with when they are built with cells from the patients’ non-...

    07/17/2015 - 09:20 Neuroscience, Human Development
  • Science Stats

    Genes and environment balance each other

    Combatants in the age-old battle of nature versus nurture may finally be able to lay down their arms. On average, both nature and nurture contribute roughly equally to determining human traits.

    Researchers compiled data from half a century’s worth of studies on more than 14 million pairs of twins. The researchers measured heritability — the amount of variation in a characteristic that...

    05/26/2015 - 12:40 Genetics, Human Development