How to read a jellyfish’s mind

Jellyfish may be brainless, but that didn’t stop these scientists from reading their minds – well, sort of. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology devised a clever way to tinker with the genes of Clytia hemisphaerica – a tiny, transparent jelly only centimetres in diameter – that makes their neurons glow with fluorescent light, … Continue reading How to read a jellyfish’s mind

How efficient is the human brain?

What is the difference between human brains and those of other mammals? Potentially, energy efficiency, according to a study, published in Nature. Neurons in the brain communicate with each other via electrical pulses. These pulses, generated as ions such as potassium and sodium, enter the cell through an ion channel. The channels act as an … Continue reading How efficient is the human brain?

Zombie protein snapped at high resolution for the first time ever

Dubbed the ‘zombie protein’, infectious prions wreak havoc in the brain and lead to fatal neurodegenerative diseases, such as mad cow disease. Now, researchers have taken the highest-ever resolution image of a prion and gathered atomic-level data about how they can kill. The 3D structure of an infectious prion fibril revealed using high-resolution electron microscopy. … Continue reading Zombie protein snapped at high resolution for the first time ever

Artificial intelligence at the edge of chaos

Australian and Japanese scientists have discovered that an artificial network of nanowires may physically function at its peak at the ‘edge of chaos’, much like the human brain. The team, led by Joel Hochstetter of the University of Sydney, ran computer simulations to test how a random nanowire network, a type of artificial intelligence, best … Continue reading Artificial intelligence at the edge of chaos

Brain organoids ready for real-time observation

A group of researchers has grown small, self-organising blobs of brain tissue in multi-welled dishes to observe in real time. The team, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Indian Institute of Technology, created a way to cheaply feed brain organoids – small bits of tissue that function in an organ-like way – and … Continue reading Brain organoids ready for real-time observation

Migraine masters

Australian-born Peter Goadsby is one of four neuroscientists who have won this year’s prestigious international Brain Prize. The group has been recognised for discovering a key mechanism that causes migraines. The prize-winning research – conducted by Lars Edvinsson (Sweden), Goadsby (Australia/UK/USA), Michael Moskowitz (USA) and Jes Olesen (Denmark) – is the culmination of four decades … Continue reading Migraine masters

Forget-me-not neurons

How do you know where something is when you can no longer see it?  Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, have found that the brain works hard to remember things you just saw by recoding the the image among neurons in the opposite side of the brain to where it was originally processed.  … Continue reading Forget-me-not neurons

Tau tangles brains

As if Alzheimer’s wasn’t vicious enough, researchers have found the wrong type of breakthrough – a brutal process where toxic proteins break through membranes and leak into neurons. A team led by Jürgen Götz and Juan Polanco from the University of Queensland found that entanglements in neurons – a common sign of dementia – are … Continue reading Tau tangles brains

Egghead concussion

Scientists say they have identified for the first time what type of impact most likely causes concussion – a serious public health issue and the number one injury suffered by sportspeople globally. The study’s results are not what you might expect. Using an egg substitute as a model for the brain, the team discovered that … Continue reading Egghead concussion

Hans Berger has a real brainstorm

Hans Berger, inventor of electroencephalography, wanted to investigate the mysteries of the stars but ended up revealing some of the secrets of the human brain. A recent article about Berger, born on 21 May 1873 in Neuses, in southern Germany, describes how in 1892 he’d enrolled in the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena as a … Continue reading Hans Berger has a real brainstorm

How adults learn a new language

Learning languages is a breeze for young children, but once that window of opportunity closes, for adults it becomes notoriously difficult. Now, Spanish scientists have shed more light on how we get around this. While it’s thought that language is specialised in the left side of the brain, the researchers found that the right side … Continue reading How adults learn a new language

How the gut protects the brain

The gut is well known for being the first line of defence against infection, but it seems it also protects our most important organ – the brain. According to surprising new research, antibodies that defend the perimeter of the brain are normally found in, and trained by, our gut. “This finding opens a new area … Continue reading How the gut protects the brain