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  • Science Ticker

    Sky’s brilliant hues may help bodies keep time

    Our circadian clocks may keep time with the help of the sky’s brilliant colors. Nerve cells associated with internal clocks in mice appear to be more sensitive to changes in yellows and blues than to changes in the brightness of their environment, researchers report online April 17 in PLOS Biology...

    04/17/2015 - 15:00 Neuroscience
  • News

    Being watched can boost productivity

    The mere presence of someone else can make the brain sharpen its focus. In the company of a friend, monkeys became more productive at a simple job, researchers report April 8 in Cerebral Cortex. This diligence was accompanied by heightened activity in brain regions that focus attention....

    04/17/2015 - 13:00 Neuroscience, Psychology
  • Screentime

    Apple’s ResearchKit wants your health data

    With its hugely popular iPhone and new software called ResearchKit, Apple thinks it may have solved a major research problem: how to recruit enough people to make associations between lifestyle and health. But with at least one of the apps associated with ResearchKit, contributing data is a lot of work.

    ResearchKit offers five health studies, each with a free app. I gave the...

    04/17/2015 - 08:00 Health
  • News in Brief

    When brain’s GPS goes awry, barriers can reboot it

    If you’re ever lost in Los Angeles, just head for the ocean to get your bearings. This advice works because running into the coast — or any other border — can reset an errant internal GPS system, a new study in mice suggests. 

    The results help explain how the brain maintains a high-fidelity map of the environment. Specialized brain cells called grid cells signal when an animal reaches...

    04/16/2015 - 12:00 Neuroscience
  • Say What?

    ‘Geographic tongue’ creates unique topography

    Geographic tongue
    \JHEE-uh-gra-fik TUHNG\ n.

    A condition in which red splotches give the tongue a maplike appearance.

    Some people see Jesus on toast, others see maps on tongues. While the former can be chalked up to an illusion, the latter points to a real medical condition.

    Tiny bumps called papillae cover the tongue. Losing some of these bumps creates geographic...

    04/15/2015 - 15:00 Biophysics, Health
  • News

    Same mutations can show up in tumors, healthy tissues

    Cancer research is increasingly turning to genetics to expose the inner workings of tumors and to guide treatment. But tumor-only analyses offer up many “false positive” mutations that appear to contribute to cancer, but which actually show up elsewhere in an individual’s healthy tissue, a new study finds. Sampling both tumor and healthy tissues might provide a way to sort out truly cancerous...

    04/15/2015 - 14:00 Cancer, Genetics
  • Mystery Solved

    Why cancer patients waste away

    A protein released by tumors is what causes cancer patients to waste away, studies of fruit flies suggest.

    Fat and other tissues all over the body wither in people with cancer, but the reason for the wasting, also called cachexia, was not understood. Cancer cells secrete a protein called IMPL2, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Berkeley...

    04/15/2015 - 10:38 Cancer, Cells
  • News in Brief

    Nicotine exposure escalates rats’ desire for alcohol

    To drive a rat to drink, make it smoke first. Rats dependent on nicotine escalate their drinking more quickly than rats that haven’t been exposed to nicotine, researchers report in the April 15 Journal of Neuroscience. The results help explain why alcohol and tobacco addictions in people often go hand in hand.


    04/14/2015 - 17:00 Neuroscience, Mental Health, Health
  • News

    Genes may influence placebo effect

    People who get a feel-good boost from sham medical treatments may have their genes to thank. 

    Researchers reviewing studies of individuals’ genetics and placebos have identified 11 genes that appear to play a role in people’s response to the sham treatments. Establishing a link between certain genes and the placebo effect is in its infancy,...

    04/14/2015 - 13:46 Biomedicine, Neuroscience
  • News in Brief

    Marijuana component fights epilepsy

    A buzz-free component of marijuana can benefit epilepsy patients who have particularly severe seizures, a new study suggests. Taking an extract of the cannabis compound cannabidiol substantially cut the patients’ number of seizures over nearly three months.

    Cannabidiol seems to mitigate the psychoactive effect of THC, the main euphoria-inducing chemical in cannabis. But cannabidiol also...

    04/13/2015 - 16:41 Neuroscience, Clinical Trials, Health