neurosciencestuff
neurosciencestuff:

Selectively Rewiring the Brain’s Circuitry to Treat Depression
On Star Trek, it is easy to take for granted the incredible ability of futuristic doctors to wave small devices over the heads of both humans and aliens, diagnose their problems through evaluating changes in brain activity or chemistry, and then treat behavior problems by selectively stimulating relevant brain circuits.
While that day is a long way off, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex does treat symptoms of depression in humans by placing a relatively small device on a person’s scalp and stimulating brain circuits. However, relatively little is known about how, exactly, TMS produces these beneficial effects.
Some studies have suggested that TMS may modulate atypical interactions between two large-scale neuronal networks, the frontoparietal central executive network (CEN) and the medial prefrontal-medial parietal default mode network (DMN). These two functional networks play important roles in emotion regulation and cognition.
In order to advance our understanding of the underlying antidepressant mechanisms of TMS, Drs. Conor Liston, Marc Dubin, and their colleagues conducted a longitudinal study to test this hypothesis.
The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging in 17 currently depressed patients to measure connectivity in the CEN and DMN networks both before and after a 25-day course of TMS. They also compared the connectivity in the depressed patients with a group of 35 healthy volunteers.
TMS normalized depression-related hyperconnectivity between the subgenual cingulate and medial prefrontal areas of the DMN, but did not alter connectivity in the CEN.
Liston, an Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, further details their findings, “We found that connectivity within the DMN and between nodes of the DMN and CEN was elevated in depressed individuals compared to healthy volunteers at baseline and normalized after TMS. Additionally, individuals with greater baseline connectivity with subgenual anterior cingulate cortex – an important target for other antidepressant modalities – were more likely to respond to TMS.”
These findings indicate that TMS may act, in part, by selectively regulating network-level connectivity.
Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, comments, “We are a long way from Star Trek, but even the current ability to link brain stimulation treatments for depression to the activity of particular brain circuits strikes me as incredible progress.”
Dubin, also an Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, adds, “Our findings may inform future efforts to develop personalized strategies for treating depression with TMS based on the connectivity of an individual’s default mode network. Further, they may help triage to TMS only those patients most likely to respond.”

neurosciencestuff:

Selectively Rewiring the Brain’s Circuitry to Treat Depression

On Star Trek, it is easy to take for granted the incredible ability of futuristic doctors to wave small devices over the heads of both humans and aliens, diagnose their problems through evaluating changes in brain activity or chemistry, and then treat behavior problems by selectively stimulating relevant brain circuits.

While that day is a long way off, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex does treat symptoms of depression in humans by placing a relatively small device on a person’s scalp and stimulating brain circuits. However, relatively little is known about how, exactly, TMS produces these beneficial effects.

Some studies have suggested that TMS may modulate atypical interactions between two large-scale neuronal networks, the frontoparietal central executive network (CEN) and the medial prefrontal-medial parietal default mode network (DMN). These two functional networks play important roles in emotion regulation and cognition.

In order to advance our understanding of the underlying antidepressant mechanisms of TMS, Drs. Conor Liston, Marc Dubin, and their colleagues conducted a longitudinal study to test this hypothesis.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging in 17 currently depressed patients to measure connectivity in the CEN and DMN networks both before and after a 25-day course of TMS. They also compared the connectivity in the depressed patients with a group of 35 healthy volunteers.

TMS normalized depression-related hyperconnectivity between the subgenual cingulate and medial prefrontal areas of the DMN, but did not alter connectivity in the CEN.

Liston, an Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, further details their findings, “We found that connectivity within the DMN and between nodes of the DMN and CEN was elevated in depressed individuals compared to healthy volunteers at baseline and normalized after TMS. Additionally, individuals with greater baseline connectivity with subgenual anterior cingulate cortex – an important target for other antidepressant modalities – were more likely to respond to TMS.”

These findings indicate that TMS may act, in part, by selectively regulating network-level connectivity.

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, comments, “We are a long way from Star Trek, but even the current ability to link brain stimulation treatments for depression to the activity of particular brain circuits strikes me as incredible progress.”

Dubin, also an Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, adds, “Our findings may inform future efforts to develop personalized strategies for treating depression with TMS based on the connectivity of an individual’s default mode network. Further, they may help triage to TMS only those patients most likely to respond.”

mindblowingscience
currentsinbiology:

How stress tears us apart
Why is it that when people are too stressed they are often grouchy, grumpy, nasty, distracted or forgetful? Researchers from the Brain Mind Institute (BMI) at EPFL have just highlighted a fundamental synaptic mechanism that explains the relationship between chronic stress and the loss of social skills and cognitive impairment. When triggered by stress, an enzyme attacks a synaptic regulatory molecule in the brain. This was revealed by a work published in Nature Communications.
Carmen Sandi’s team went to look for answers in a region of the hippocampus known for its involvement in behavior and cognitive skills. In there, scientists were interested in a molecule, the nectin-3 cell adhesion protein, whose role is to ensure adherence, at the synaptic level, between two neurons. Positioned in the postsynaptic part, these proteins bind to the molecules of the presynaptic portion, thus ensuring the synaptic function. However, the researchers found that on rat models affected by chronic stress, nectin-3 molecules were significantly reduced in number.
Michael A. van der Kooij, Martina Fantin, Emilia Rejmak, Jocelyn Grosse, Olivia Zanoletti, Celine Fournier, Krishnendu Ganguly, Katarzyna Kalita, Leszek Kaczmarek, Carmen Sandi. Role for MMP-9 in stress-induced downregulation of nectin-3 in hippocampal CA1 and associated behavioural alterations. Nature Communications, 2014; 5: 4995 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5995
Carmen Sandi’s team at EPFL discovered an important synaptic mechanism in the effects of chronic stress. It causes the massive release of glutamate which acts on NMDA receptors, essential for synaptic plasticity. These receptors activate MMP-9 enzymes which, like scissors, cut the nectin-3 cell adhesion proteins. This prevents them from playing their regulatory role, making subjects less sociable and causing cognitive impairment. Credit: EPFL

currentsinbiology:

How stress tears us apart

Why is it that when people are too stressed they are often grouchy, grumpy, nasty, distracted or forgetful? Researchers from the Brain Mind Institute (BMI) at EPFL have just highlighted a fundamental synaptic mechanism that explains the relationship between chronic stress and the loss of social skills and cognitive impairment. When triggered by stress, an enzyme attacks a synaptic regulatory molecule in the brain. This was revealed by a work published in Nature Communications.

Carmen Sandi’s team went to look for answers in a region of the hippocampus known for its involvement in behavior and cognitive skills. In there, scientists were interested in a molecule, the nectin-3 cell adhesion protein, whose role is to ensure adherence, at the synaptic level, between two neurons. Positioned in the postsynaptic part, these proteins bind to the molecules of the presynaptic portion, thus ensuring the synaptic function. However, the researchers found that on rat models affected by chronic stress, nectin-3 molecules were significantly reduced in number.

Michael A. van der Kooij, Martina Fantin, Emilia Rejmak, Jocelyn Grosse, Olivia Zanoletti, Celine Fournier, Krishnendu Ganguly, Katarzyna Kalita, Leszek Kaczmarek, Carmen Sandi. Role for MMP-9 in stress-induced downregulation of nectin-3 in hippocampal CA1 and associated behavioural alterations. Nature Communications, 2014; 5: 4995 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5995

Carmen Sandi’s team at EPFL discovered an important synaptic mechanism in the effects of chronic stress. It causes the massive release of glutamate which acts on NMDA receptors, essential for synaptic plasticity. These receptors activate MMP-9 enzymes which, like scissors, cut the nectin-3 cell adhesion proteins. This prevents them from playing their regulatory role, making subjects less sociable and causing cognitive impairment. Credit: EPFL

mindblowingscience
currentsinbiology:

How stress tears us apart
Why is it that when people are too stressed they are often grouchy, grumpy, nasty, distracted or forgetful? Researchers from the Brain Mind Institute (BMI) at EPFL have just highlighted a fundamental synaptic mechanism that explains the relationship between chronic stress and the loss of social skills and cognitive impairment. When triggered by stress, an enzyme attacks a synaptic regulatory molecule in the brain. This was revealed by a work published in Nature Communications.
Carmen Sandi’s team went to look for answers in a region of the hippocampus known for its involvement in behavior and cognitive skills. In there, scientists were interested in a molecule, the nectin-3 cell adhesion protein, whose role is to ensure adherence, at the synaptic level, between two neurons. Positioned in the postsynaptic part, these proteins bind to the molecules of the presynaptic portion, thus ensuring the synaptic function. However, the researchers found that on rat models affected by chronic stress, nectin-3 molecules were significantly reduced in number.
Michael A. van der Kooij, Martina Fantin, Emilia Rejmak, Jocelyn Grosse, Olivia Zanoletti, Celine Fournier, Krishnendu Ganguly, Katarzyna Kalita, Leszek Kaczmarek, Carmen Sandi. Role for MMP-9 in stress-induced downregulation of nectin-3 in hippocampal CA1 and associated behavioural alterations. Nature Communications, 2014; 5: 4995 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5995
Carmen Sandi’s team at EPFL discovered an important synaptic mechanism in the effects of chronic stress. It causes the massive release of glutamate which acts on NMDA receptors, essential for synaptic plasticity. These receptors activate MMP-9 enzymes which, like scissors, cut the nectin-3 cell adhesion proteins. This prevents them from playing their regulatory role, making subjects less sociable and causing cognitive impairment. Credit: EPFL

currentsinbiology:

How stress tears us apart

Why is it that when people are too stressed they are often grouchy, grumpy, nasty, distracted or forgetful? Researchers from the Brain Mind Institute (BMI) at EPFL have just highlighted a fundamental synaptic mechanism that explains the relationship between chronic stress and the loss of social skills and cognitive impairment. When triggered by stress, an enzyme attacks a synaptic regulatory molecule in the brain. This was revealed by a work published in Nature Communications.

Carmen Sandi’s team went to look for answers in a region of the hippocampus known for its involvement in behavior and cognitive skills. In there, scientists were interested in a molecule, the nectin-3 cell adhesion protein, whose role is to ensure adherence, at the synaptic level, between two neurons. Positioned in the postsynaptic part, these proteins bind to the molecules of the presynaptic portion, thus ensuring the synaptic function. However, the researchers found that on rat models affected by chronic stress, nectin-3 molecules were significantly reduced in number.

Michael A. van der Kooij, Martina Fantin, Emilia Rejmak, Jocelyn Grosse, Olivia Zanoletti, Celine Fournier, Krishnendu Ganguly, Katarzyna Kalita, Leszek Kaczmarek, Carmen Sandi. Role for MMP-9 in stress-induced downregulation of nectin-3 in hippocampal CA1 and associated behavioural alterations. Nature Communications, 2014; 5: 4995 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5995

Carmen Sandi’s team at EPFL discovered an important synaptic mechanism in the effects of chronic stress. It causes the massive release of glutamate which acts on NMDA receptors, essential for synaptic plasticity. These receptors activate MMP-9 enzymes which, like scissors, cut the nectin-3 cell adhesion proteins. This prevents them from playing their regulatory role, making subjects less sociable and causing cognitive impairment. Credit: EPFL

psych-facts

psych2go:

image

Have you ever stayed awake at night, looking into the nothingness that was your darken ceiling and wondering “what is the point of it all”? All, in this instance, being life and the point being the unanswered question that your ceiling just does not have the answer to give….

we-are-star-stuff
mindblowingscience:

Plutonium: The scary element that saved the crew of Apollo 13

Plutonium may be the most feared and fearsome substance in the entire periodic table.
It’s best known as the main ingredient of atomic bombs like the infamous Fat Man, dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, which killed some 70,000 people. Japan surrendered six days later, but the threat of nuclear annihilation locked the world into Cold War for decades.
Yet the story of plutonium is not all about Armageddon or the threat of it. It is also the story of an incredible voyage of discovery into an unknown world.
You’ve probably heard the quote “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” It was what Commander Jim Lovell told the Nasa command centre back on Earth in the moments after the Apollo 13 spacecraft had been rocked by an explosion.
It was April 1970, and Apollo 13 was 56 hours and 200,000 miles into its mission, mankind’s third attempt to land people on the moon.
One of the oxygen tanks had exploded, severing the spacecraft’s main power supply, and causing the temperature on board to plummet dangerously and carbon dioxide levels to rise.
Lovell and his crew had to retreat to the lunar module, which carried a suite of scientific instruments powered by a warm battery containing 8.5lb of pure plutonium.
That battery helped save the astronauts’ lives.

Continue Reading.

mindblowingscience:

Plutonium: The scary element that saved the crew of Apollo 13

Plutonium may be the most feared and fearsome substance in the entire periodic table.

It’s best known as the main ingredient of atomic bombs like the infamous Fat Man, dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, which killed some 70,000 people. Japan surrendered six days later, but the threat of nuclear annihilation locked the world into Cold War for decades.

Yet the story of plutonium is not all about Armageddon or the threat of it. It is also the story of an incredible voyage of discovery into an unknown world.

You’ve probably heard the quote “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” It was what Commander Jim Lovell told the Nasa command centre back on Earth in the moments after the Apollo 13 spacecraft had been rocked by an explosion.

It was April 1970, and Apollo 13 was 56 hours and 200,000 miles into its mission, mankind’s third attempt to land people on the moon.

One of the oxygen tanks had exploded, severing the spacecraft’s main power supply, and causing the temperature on board to plummet dangerously and carbon dioxide levels to rise.

Lovell and his crew had to retreat to the lunar module, which carried a suite of scientific instruments powered by a warm battery containing 8.5lb of pure plutonium.

That battery helped save the astronauts’ lives.

Continue Reading.

ucresearch

ucresearch:

Jellyfish flames in space

fuckyeahfluiddynamics:

The jellyfish-like light show in the animations above shows the life and death of a flame in microgravity. The work is part of the Flame Extinguishment Experiment 2 (FLEX-2) currently flying aboard the International Space Station.

When ignited, the fuel droplet creates a blue spherical shell of flame about 15 mm in diameter. The spherical shape is typical of flames in microgravity; on Earth, flames are shaped like teardrops due to the effects of buoyancy, which exists only in a gravitational field.

The bright yellow spots and streaks that appear after ignition are soot, which consists mainly of hot-burning carbon. The uneven distribution of soot is what causes the pulsating bursts seen in the middle animation. When soot products drift back onto the fuel droplet, it causes uneven burning and flame pulses. The final burst of flame in the last animation is the soot igniting and extinguishing the flame.

Fires are a major hazard in microgravity, where oxygen supplies are limited and evacuating is not always an option. Scientists hope that experiments like FLEX-2 will shed light on how fires spread and can be fought aboard spacecraft. For more, check out NASA’s ScienceCast on microgravity flames. (Image credits: NASA, source video; submitted by jshoer)

The lead researcher on the project is UC San Diego’s Forman Williams and has been studying combustion physics for decades.  He explains:

"Combustion in microgravity is both strange and wonderful. We first saw these disruptive burning events in labs and microgravity drop towers more than 40 years ago. The space station is great because the orbiting lab allows us to study them in great detail."

Read more about his experiment here.

neurosciencestuff
neurosciencestuff:

Don’t Underestimate Your Mind’s Eye
Take a look around, and what do you see? Much more than you think you do, thanks to your finely tuned mind’s eye, which processes images without your even knowing.
A University of Arizona study has found that objects in our visual field of which we are not consciously aware still may influence our decisions. The findings refute traditional ideas about visual perception and cognition, and they could shed light on why we sometimes make decisions — stepping into a street, choosing not to merge into a traffic lane — without really knowing why.
Laura Cacciamani, who recently earned her doctorate in psychology with a minor in neuroscience, has found supporting evidence. Cacciamani’s is the lead author on a co-authored study, published online in the journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, shows that the brain’s subconscious processing has an impact on behavior and decision-making.
This seems to make evolutionary sense, Cacciamani said. Early humans would have required keen awareness of their surroundings on a subliminal level in order to survive.
"Your brain is always monitoring for meaning in the world, to be aware of your general surroundings and potential predators," Cacciamani said. "You can be focused on a task, but your brain is assessing the meaning of everything around you – even objects that you’re not consciously perceiving."
The study builds on the findings of earlier research by Jay Sanguinetti, who also was a doctoral candidate in the UA Department of Psychology. Both studies go against conventional wisdom among vision scientists.
"According to the traditional view, the brain accesses the meaning – or the memory – of an object after you perceive it," Cacciamani said. "Against this view, we have now shown that the meaning of an object can be accessed before conscious perception.
"We’re showing that there’s more interplay between memory and perception than previously has been assumed," she said.
Cacciamani asked participants in her study to classify nouns that appeared on a computer screen as naming a natural object or artificial object by pressing one of two buttons labeled “natural” or “artificial.” For example, the word “leaf” indicates an object found in nature, while “anchor” indicates a man-made or artificial object.
But before each word appeared on the screen, the computer flashed a black silhouette that – unknown to participants – had portions of natural or artificial objects suggested along the white outside regions (called the “ground” regions) of the image. Participants were not told to look for anything in the silhouettes, and they were flashed so quickly – 50 milliseconds – that it would have been difficult to notice the objects in the ground regions even if someone knew what to look for. Participants never were aware that the silhouette’s grounds suggested recognizable objects.
Cacciamani measured how well study participants performed at categorizing the words as natural or artificial by recording speed and accuracy.
"We found that participants performed better on the natural/artificial word task when that word followed a silhouette whose ground contained an object of the same rather than a different category," Cacciamani said.
This indicates that the brain accessed the meaning of the objects in the silhouette’s grounds even though study participants didn’t know the objects were there, she said.
"Every day our visual systems are bombarded with more information than we can consciously be aware of," Cacciamani said. "We’re showing that your brain might still be accessing information without your conscious awareness, and that could influence your behavior."

neurosciencestuff:

Don’t Underestimate Your Mind’s Eye

Take a look around, and what do you see? Much more than you think you do, thanks to your finely tuned mind’s eye, which processes images without your even knowing.

A University of Arizona study has found that objects in our visual field of which we are not consciously aware still may influence our decisions. The findings refute traditional ideas about visual perception and cognition, and they could shed light on why we sometimes make decisions — stepping into a street, choosing not to merge into a traffic lane — without really knowing why.

Laura Cacciamani, who recently earned her doctorate in psychology with a minor in neuroscience, has found supporting evidence. Cacciamani’s is the lead author on a co-authored study, published online in the journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, shows that the brain’s subconscious processing has an impact on behavior and decision-making.

This seems to make evolutionary sense, Cacciamani said. Early humans would have required keen awareness of their surroundings on a subliminal level in order to survive.

"Your brain is always monitoring for meaning in the world, to be aware of your general surroundings and potential predators," Cacciamani said. "You can be focused on a task, but your brain is assessing the meaning of everything around you – even objects that you’re not consciously perceiving."

The study builds on the findings of earlier research by Jay Sanguinetti, who also was a doctoral candidate in the UA Department of Psychology. Both studies go against conventional wisdom among vision scientists.

"According to the traditional view, the brain accesses the meaning – or the memory – of an object after you perceive it," Cacciamani said. "Against this view, we have now shown that the meaning of an object can be accessed before conscious perception.

"We’re showing that there’s more interplay between memory and perception than previously has been assumed," she said.

Cacciamani asked participants in her study to classify nouns that appeared on a computer screen as naming a natural object or artificial object by pressing one of two buttons labeled “natural” or “artificial.” For example, the word “leaf” indicates an object found in nature, while “anchor” indicates a man-made or artificial object.

But before each word appeared on the screen, the computer flashed a black silhouette that – unknown to participants – had portions of natural or artificial objects suggested along the white outside regions (called the “ground” regions) of the image. Participants were not told to look for anything in the silhouettes, and they were flashed so quickly – 50 milliseconds – that it would have been difficult to notice the objects in the ground regions even if someone knew what to look for. Participants never were aware that the silhouette’s grounds suggested recognizable objects.

Cacciamani measured how well study participants performed at categorizing the words as natural or artificial by recording speed and accuracy.

"We found that participants performed better on the natural/artificial word task when that word followed a silhouette whose ground contained an object of the same rather than a different category," Cacciamani said.

This indicates that the brain accessed the meaning of the objects in the silhouette’s grounds even though study participants didn’t know the objects were there, she said.

"Every day our visual systems are bombarded with more information than we can consciously be aware of," Cacciamani said. "We’re showing that your brain might still be accessing information without your conscious awareness, and that could influence your behavior."

wildcat2030

wildcat2030:

Fourteen-year-old develops DIY tablet kits to educate and inspire
-
Less than one year ago, 14-year-old Taj Pabari was like any other kid, toiling away on a 3D printer at school (ok, maybe not quite like any other kid). An assignment required the class to sandwich two pieces of plastic together, but where some students simply saw air, Pabari envisioned the makings of a new kind of educational toy. Fast-forward some 10 months and he finds himself shortlisted for a Young Innovator of the Year award and pitching his product to potential investors. So what is it that has catapulted Pabari from the classroom to rubbing shoulders with industry leaders in the space of a year? Gizmag caught up with the Australian entrepreneur to learn all about his Lego-inspired tablet kits and how he plans on changing the face of IT education. (via Fourteen-year-old develops DIY tablet kits to educate and inspire)