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Researchers show that memories reside in specific brain cells

March 22, 2012 1:28 pm | by Cathryn Delude, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory | News | Comments

Our memories leave traces that we may conjure up in remembrance, accompanied by time, place, and sensations. These memory “engrams” are more than just conceptual. Recent optogenetics studies have shown that memories really do reside in very specific brain cells, and simply activating a tiny number of neurons can conjure an entire memory.

Why the world in our head stays still when we move our eyes

March 22, 2012 1:12 pm | News | Comments

With the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging scientists in Germany have identified two areas of the brain that compare the movements of the eye with the visual movements cast onto the retina so as to correctly perceive objects in motion. Without this ability the brain would not be able to distinguish what is in motion: the world or us.

Doctors find clue in quest to predict heart attack

March 22, 2012 7:07 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Most heart attacks happen when fatty deposits in an artery burst open, a blood clot forms to seal the break, and the blood clot blocks blood flow. Unfortunately, today's best tests can't predict when that's about to happen. Now scientists have found a clue that one day may help doctors determine if a heart attack is imminent, in hopes of preventing it.

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Biosensor breaks through the barrier of multimodal analysis

March 22, 2012 6:51 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan have built a multimodal bio-image sensor that can render images of the 2D distribution of proton concentration (pH) and fluorescence intensity for multimodal analyses of biochemical objects.

Nanoslinky is not a toy

March 21, 2012 4:08 am | News | Comments

Remember Slinky, the coiled metal spring that “walks” down stairs with just a push, momentum and gravity? Researchers at NIST have developed their own version of this classic—albeit 10 million times smaller—as a new technology for manipulating and measuring DNA molecules and other nanoscale materials.

Researchers increase speed of single-molecule measurements

March 18, 2012 3:33 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers has figured out a way to measure nanopores—tiny holes in a thin membrane that can detect single biological molecules such as DNA and proteins—with less error than can be achieved with commercial instruments. The new integrated circuit design could lead to cheaper, faster DNA sequencing.

Brain imaging study finds evidence of basis for caregiving impulse

March 16, 2012 5:12 am | News | Comments

Distinct patterns of activity—which may indicate a predisposition to care for infants—appear in the brains of adults who view an image of an infant face—even when the child is not theirs, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and in Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Brain memory mechanism revealed

March 9, 2012 10:53 am | News | Comments

Despite a century of research, memory storage in the brain has remained mysterious. Evidence points to synaptic connection strengths among brain neurons, but synaptic components are short-lived and yet memories can last lifetimes.Recent has demonstrated a plausible mechanism for encoding synaptic memory in microtubules, major components of the structural cytoskeleton within neurons.

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Origami-inspired paper sensor could test for malaria, HIV

March 8, 2012 11:34 am | News | Comments

Inspired by the paper-folding art of origami, chemists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a 3D paper sensor that may be able to test for diseases such as malaria and HIV for less than 10 cents. Such low-cost. point-of-care sensors could be useful in the developing world.

Texas vulture study upends forensics

March 8, 2012 9:53 am | by Michael Graczyk, Associated Press | News | Comments

For more than five weeks, a woman's body lay undisturbed in a secluded Texas field. Then a frenzied flock of vultures descended on the corpse and reduced it to a skeleton within hours. Adn it was done on purpose. Not as a crime, but as a scientific experiment into the way human bodies decompose. The results are upending some long-held assumptions about decay.

Genome study finds some gorilla DNA aping our own

March 7, 2012 10:34 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Our DNA is most similar to chimpanzees, our closest relatives. Recent research that finally deciphered the entire genome of the gorilla, however, held a surprise. A sizable portion of our genome is closer to a gorilla's than to a chimp's, and this revelation could affect the way we look at our evolutionary tree.

Seat of creativity may not be the right brain alone

March 5, 2012 3:05 pm | by Robert Perkins | News | Comments

Researchers who recently used functionalized magnetic resonance imaging to pin down the exact source of creativity in the brain have found that the left hemisphere of the brain, thought to be the logic and math portion, actually plays a critical role in creative thinking.

Investigators predict, confirm how E. coli hijack cells’ sense of direction

March 1, 2012 8:34 am | News | Comments

Using a new model to explain how mammalian cells establish the sense of direction necessary to move, researchers at the University of Texas have predicted how bacteria like Escherichia coli that cause food poisoning can hijack a cell’s sense of direction. They then confirmed those predictions in living cells.

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Measuring blood flow to monitor sickle cell disease

March 1, 2012 5:29 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women's Hospital have devised a simple blood test that can predict whether sickle cell patients are at high risk for painful complications of the disease. To perform the test, the researchers measure how well blood samples flow through a microfluidic device.

End of the “Lily of the Valley” phenomenon?

February 29, 2012 7:34 am | News | Comments

According to a 2003 study by German and American scientists, a component of the Lily of the Valley scent known as Bourgeonal alters the calcium balance of human sperm, which acts to attract the sperm to the source of the scent. The finding the sperm can smell inspired new studies and even a book title, but it is now at risk of being debunked after recent research in Germany.

Cells on film

February 27, 2012 3:19 am | News | Comments

Scientists at RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan, with help from colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, have invented a polymer film loaded with antibodies that can capture tumor cells. This could be an important diagnostic tool because during metastasis cancerous tumor cells float around the bloodstream, nearly impossible to detect.

Biodiversity discovery waiting in a wasp’s wings

February 24, 2012 7:31 am | News | Comments

Providing new information about the little-understood evolution of the diversity of sizes and shapes in nature is a recent study identifying genetic differences between two closely related species of Nasonia wasps. Digging deeply, the research team identified the chromosomal location of “wing size” gene, the differences in DNA sequences of the genes, and the regulatory controls that govern the genes.

Team magnetizes carbon nanoparticles for cancer therapy

February 24, 2012 7:25 am | News | Comments

Carbon nanoparticles can be coated to make them attach to cancer cells, but getting them in the correct position can be difficult. A research team in Texas has magnetized nanoparticles so that they can be moved with a magnetic field. Administered using fiber optics, the method is non-destructive to healthy cells and carbon nanoparticles also fluoresce.

In new microchip, cells separate by rolling away

February 24, 2012 7:16 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

“Rolling” is a common mechanism cells use to navigate through the body. White blood cells, for example, roll along a blood vessel’s walls to reach inflamed areas. A team of biotechnology experts have invented a microfluidic device that uses this natural cell-rolling mechanism to sort cells. The device features tiny channels coated with sticky molecules that bind weakly with certain cells, forcing them to roll into a different spot.

Study helps reveal origin of photosynthesis

February 23, 2012 6:44 am | News | Comments

An international team led by evolutionary biologist and Rutgers University professor Debashish Bhattacharya has shed light on the early events leading to photosynthesis. In sequencing the 70 million base pair nuclear genome of the ancient one-celled alga Cyanophora , the team was able to trace the origin of the underlying mechanics of photosynthesis further than ever before.

First results from large-scale molecular science R & D effort released

February 23, 2012 6:28 am | News | Comments

The TRR 61 project has been keeping about 150 scientists in Germany and China busy since 2008. The goal is to understand how large natural systems, such as biorganisms are assembled from numerous diverse small molecular structures. The first papers from the first stage of the project, which looks at self-assembly mechanisms, have recently been published.

A faster way to catch cells

February 22, 2012 6:50 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Separating complex mixtures of cells can offer valuable information for diagnosing and treating disease. However, it may be necessary to search through billions of other cells to collect rare cells. A team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Massachusetts General Hospital has now demonstrated a new microfluidic device that can isolate target cells much faster than existing devices.

Implantable, wireless sensors share secrets of healing tissues

February 22, 2012 4:12 am | News | Comments

A new implantable sensor developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute can wirelessly transmit data from the site of a recent orthopedic surgery. Inexpensive to make and highly reliable, this new sensor holds the promise of more accurate, more cost-effective, and less invasive post-surgery monitoring and diagnosis.

Imaging technique can 'out run' damage from X-ray radiation

February 21, 2012 5:36 am | News | Comments

X-ray crystallography has become crucial to modern biological imaging, but large single crystals for high-quality data acquisition are difficult to grow. Plus, radiation damages delicate samples. A new technique, femtosecond diffraction imaging, could solve both problems at once and still deliver high-quality images.

Chemists mimic nature to expand the range of biosensors

February 15, 2012 4:11 am | News | Comments

Biosensors used in medical diagnostics are typically very specific, detecting within a fixed dynamic ranges. Researchers recently designed a new type of biosensor that copies nature’s approach, which is to employ many different sensors all looking for a common target over a wide range.

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