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  • Feature

    Animals give clues to the origins of human number crunching

    When Christian Agrillo runs number-related experiments in his lab, he wishes his undergraduate subjects good luck. For certain tests, that’s about all he says. Giving instructions to the people would be unfair to the fish.

    Agrillo, of the University of Padua in Italy, is finishing up several years of pitting humans against fish in trials of their abilities to compare quantities. He can’t...

    11/29/2016 - 14:00 Animals, Evolution, Neuroscience, Numbers
  • News in Brief

    Despite Alzheimer’s plaques, some seniors remain mentally sharp

    SAN DIEGO — A small number of people maintain razor-sharp memories into their 90s, despite having brains chock-full of the plaques and tangles linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers suspect that these people’s brains are somehow impervious to the usual devastation thought to be caused by those plaques and tangles.

    Researchers studied the brains of people 90 years old or older who had...

    11/16/2016 - 13:24 Neuroscience, Health
  • News

    Protein linked to Parkinson’s travels from gut to brain

    SAN DIEGO — Over the course of months, clumps of a protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease can travel from the gut into the brains of mice, scientists have found.

    The results, reported November 14 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, suggest that in some cases, Parkinson’s may get its start in the gut. That’s an intriguing concept, says neuroscientist John Cryan of...

    11/16/2016 - 12:30 Neuroscience, Health
  • News

    Sounds and glowing screens impair mouse brains

    SAN DIEGO — Mice raised in cages bombarded with glowing lights and sounds have profound brain abnormalities and behavioral trouble. Hours of daily stimulation led to behaviors reminiscent of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, scientists reported November 14 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

    Certain kinds of sensory stimulation, such as sights and sounds, are...

    11/15/2016 - 17:30 Neuroscience, Human Development
  • News in Brief

    Zap to the head leads to fat loss

    SAN DIEGO — A nerve-zapping headset caused people to shed fat in a small preliminary study.

    Six people who had received the stimulation lost on average about 8 percent of the fat on their trunks in four months, scientists reported November 12 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

    The headset stimulated the vestibular nerve, which runs just behind the ears. That...

    11/14/2016 - 17:53 Neuroscience, Health
  • Screentime

    Interactive map reveals hidden details of the Milky Way

    There’s much more to the universe than meets the eye, and a new web-based app lets you explore just how much our eyes are missing. Gleamoscope presents the night sky across a range of electromagnetic frequencies. Spots of gamma rays pinpoint distant feeding black holes. Tendrils of dust glow with infrared light throughout the Milky Way. A supernova remnant — the site of a star that exploded...

    11/14/2016 - 15:35 Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    Say hola to La Niña

    El Niño’s meteorological sister, La Niña, has officially taken over.

    This year’s relatively weak La Niña is marked by unusually cool sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. That cold water causes shifts in weather patterns that can cause torrential downpours in western Pacific countries, droughts in parts of the Americas and more intense Atlantic...

    11/10/2016 - 17:34 Climate, Oceans
  • 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 memories, report...

    11/03/2016 - 14:12 Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • News

    HIV came to NYC at least a decade before virus ID’d

    A genetic study of HIV viruses from the 1970s may finally clear the name of a man long identified as the source of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. HIV came to New York City between 1969 and 1973, long before the man known as Patient Zero became infected, researchers report October 26 in Nature.

    Using techniques developed to decipher badly degraded ancient DNA from fossils,...

    10/26/2016 - 13:06 Genetics, Microbiology, Science & Society
  • Wild Things

    Painted lady butterflies’ migration may take them across the Sahara

    Butterflies look so delicate as they flitter from flower to flower. And yet, they are capable of migrating incredibly long distances. The monarch, for example, migrates between Canada and Mexico, covering distances of up to 4,800 kilometers, riding a combination of columns of rising air, called thermals, and air currents to travel around 80 to 160 kilometers per day.

    No single monarch...

    10/12/2016 - 11:32 Animals