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Scientists discover thriving colonies of microbes in ocean “plastisphere”

June 27, 2013 2:50 pm | News | Comments

In a recently published study, scientists say they have found a diverse multitude of microbes colonizing and thriving on flecks of plastic that have polluted the oceans—a vast new human-made flotilla of microbial communities that they have dubbed the “plastisphere.” Using scanning electron microscopy and gene sequencing techniques, they found at least 1,000 different types of bacterial cells, some of them new species yet to be identified.

High-resolution mapping technique uncovers brain’s circuit architecture

June 27, 2013 2:24 pm | News | Comments

The power of the brain lies in its trillions of intercellular connections, called synapses, which together form complex neural “networks.” While neuroscientists have long sought to map these complex connections, traditional techniques have yet to provide the desired resolution. Now, by using an innovative brain-tracing technique, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes and the Salk Institute have found a way to untangle these networks.

Researchers find zinc’s crucial pathway to the brain

June 27, 2013 12:41 pm | by Aviva Hope Rutkin, MBL | News | Comments

A new study in California shows that neural cells require zinc uptake through a membrane transporter referred to as ZIP12. If that route is closed, neuronal sprouting and growth are significantly impaired and is fatal for a developing embryo. The study highlights how parts of the brain maintain their delicate balance of zinc, an element required in minute but crucial doses.


Sugar solution makes tissues see-through

June 24, 2013 10:01 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan have developed a new sugar and water-based solution that turns tissues transparent in just three days without disrupting the shape and chemical nature of the samples. Combined with fluorescence microscopy, this technique enabled the team to obtain detailed images of a mouse brain at an unprecedented resolution.

Digital 3-D atlas of brain reveals tiny details

June 21, 2013 8:37 am | by Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Reference brains are indispensable tools in human brain mapping, enabling integration of multimodal data into an anatomically realistic standard space. Available reference brains, however, are restricted to the macroscopic scale. Researchers have now created a publicly available ultrahigh-resolution 3-D model of a human brain at nearly cellular resolution.

What do memories look like?

June 20, 2013 8:44 am | News | Comments

Oscar Wilde called memory “the diary that we all carry about with us.” Now a team of Univ. of Southern California scientists has developed a way to see where and how that diary is written. The team engineered microscopic probes that light up synapses in a living neuron in real time by attaching fluorescent markers onto synaptic proteins—all without affecting the neuron’s ability to function.

Imaging technique captures ever-changing world of metabolites

June 13, 2013 7:38 am | News | Comments

What would you do with a camera that can take a picture of something and tell you how new it is? If you’re a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist, you use it to gain a better understanding of the ever-changing world of metabolites. A team of researchers has developed a mass spectrometry imaging technique that not only maps the whereabouts of individual metabolites in a biological sample, but how new the metabolites are too.

With brain-computer interface, tasks become as simple as waving a hand

June 11, 2013 6:07 pm | by Michelle Ma, University of Washington | News | Comments

Small electrodes placed on or inside the brain allow patients to interact with computers or control robotic limbs simply by thinking about how to execute those actions. Researchers have recently shown the brain can adapt to this brain-computer interface technology. Their work shows that it behaves much like it does when completing simple motor skills such as kicking a ball, typing, or waving a hand.


NUS uses JPK Instruments’ optical tweezers

June 4, 2013 8:37 am | News | Comments

JPK Instruments reports on the Yan Jie single-molecule biophysics research group at the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI) of the National Univ. of Singapore (NUS) and their use of optical tweezers. The MBI of the NUS was created through joint funding by the National Research Foundation and the Ministry of Education with the goal of creating a new research center in mechanobiology to benefit both the discipline and Singapore.

New imaging tool directly measures liquid surfaces

May 31, 2013 8:09 am | News | Comments

A unique chemical imaging tool readily and reliably presents volatile liquids to scientific instruments, according to a team including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. These instruments require samples be held in a vacuum, which is often incompatible with hydrocarbons and other liquids.

New single virus detection technique yields faster diagnosis

May 30, 2013 2:29 pm | News | Comments

To test the severity of a viral infection, clinicians try to gauge how many viruses are packed into a certain volume of blood or other bodily fluid. However, the standard methods used for these tests are only able to estimate the number of viruses in a given volume of fluid. Now two independent teams have developed new optics-based methods for determining the exact viral load of a sample by counting individual virus particles.

Visualization reveals virus particle have more individuality than thought

May 29, 2013 9:01 am | News | Comments

Virus particles of the same type had been thought to have identical structures, like a mass-produced toy, but a new visualization technique developed by a Purdue University researcher revealed otherwise. It was found that an important viral substructure consisted of a collection of components that could be assembled in different ways, creating differences from particle to particle.

Scientists offer first definitive proof of bacteria-feeding behavior in green algae

May 23, 2013 11:21 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers has captured images of green alga consuming bacteria, offering a glimpse at how early organisms dating back more than 1 billion years may have acquired free-living photosynthetic cells. This acquisition is thought to have been a critical first step in the evolution of photosynthetic algae and land plants.


Columbia University licenses 3D segmentation software to Varian

May 21, 2013 8:19 am | News | Comments

Columbia University has signed a licensing agreement with Varian Medical Systems for new imaging software that facilitates 3D segmentation, the process by which anatomical structures in medical images are distinguished from one another—an important step in the precise planning of cancer surgery and radiation treatments.

Computational tool simplifies complex data into 2D images

May 20, 2013 9:30 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Columbia University and Stanford University have developed a computational method that enables scientists to visualize and interpret "high-dimensional" data produced by single-cell measurement technologies such as mass cytometry. A sophisticated algorithm converts difficult-to-interpret data into visual representations similar to two-dimensional "scatter plots".

Grammar errors? The brain detects them even when you are unaware

May 14, 2013 10:40 am | News | Comments

Your brain often works on autopilot when it comes to grammar. That theory has been around for years, but University of Oregon neuroscientists have captured elusive hard evidence that people indeed detect and process grammatical errors with no awareness of doing so.  

Study looks at muscle adaptations in minimalist runners

May 7, 2013 11:22 am | by Fariss Samarrai, University of Virginia | News | Comments

Despite the perceived advantages of foot protection, some runners in recent years have returned to barefoot running, believing it is a more natural way to run and therefore less injurious to the feet and legs. The difference results in a different running stride, and it affects how the muscles of the legs and feet respond and develop. A new study attempts to explain exactly how the muscles respond to this change.

New imaging technique visualizes bio-metals and molecules simultaneously

May 2, 2013 2:25 pm | by Juliette Savin, RIKEN | News | Comments

Metal elements and molecules interact in the body, but visualizing them together has always been a challenge. Researchers at RIKEN in Japan have developed a new molecular imaging technology that enables them to image bio-metals and bio-molecules at the same time in a live mouse. This new technology will enable researchers to study the complex interactions between metal elements and molecules in living organisms.

New imaging technique to visualize biometals and molecules

May 2, 2013 10:29 am | News | Comments

Metal elements and molecules interact in the body but visualizing them together has always been a challenge. Researchers from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies have developed a new molecular imaging technology that enables them to visualize biometals and biomolecules simultaneously in a live mouse. This new technology will enable researchers to study the complex interactions between metal elements and molecules.

Important microscopic technique advanced for biomedical research

April 29, 2013 8:17 am | News | Comments

Scientists at TU Delft have made an important advancement in a new microscopic technique that is widely used in medical research. They demonstrate what the resolution of this localization microscopy is and how the best resolution can be achieved as quickly as possible.

Tests on cancer cells shows them as “squishy”, yet tactically strong

April 29, 2013 8:06 am | News | Comments

To get a better understanding of metastasis, more than 95 graduate students, post docs and professors in a variety of laboratories across the U.S. subjected two cell lines to a battery of tests and measurements using more than 20 different techniques. The work has enabled a comprehensive cataloging and comparison of the physical characteristics of non-malignant and metastatic cells.

Imaging technology could reveal cellular secrets

April 25, 2013 2:30 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have married two biological imaging technologies, creating a new way to learn how good cells go bad. Being able to study a cell's internal workings in fine detail would likely yield insights into the physical and biochemical responses to its environment. The technology, which combines an atomic force microscope and nuclear magnetic resonance system, could help researchers study individual cancer cells.

Study aims to understand how neurons represent the world

April 23, 2013 11:49 am | News | Comments

To understand the development of sensory representations within our brain, we have to comprehend how electrical activation is linked to the sensory experience. For this reason, researchers in Italy have analyzed the behavior and the activation of neural networks in rats while carrying out tactile object recognition tests. The study represents the first time that the activity of multiple neurons has been monitored.

Nanoparticle probes could drastically drop cost of two-photon microscopy

April 22, 2013 11:09 am | News | Comments

A dye-based imaging technique known as two-photon microscopy can produce pictures of active neural structures in much finer detail than functional magnetic resonance imaging, but it requires expensive femtosecond lasers to fluoresce existing dyes. A research team at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a new kind dye that fluoresces easily and produces quality images with far less powerful lasers.

Lost your keys? Your cat? The brain can rapidly mobilize a search party

April 22, 2013 9:46 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that when we embark on a targeted search, various visual and non-visual regions of the brain mobilize to track down a person, animal, or thing. That means that if we're looking for a youngster lost in a crowd, the brain areas usually dedicated to recognizing other objects shift their focus and join the search party.

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