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This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 26 January – 30 January

Profile of neurogeneticist, Niamh O’Sullivan; a link between brain inflammation and depression; autism-risk genes and more.

Niamh O’Sullivan PhD, Neurogeneticist

In orr latest profile article on neurogeneticist, Niamh O'Sullivan PhD, O’Sullivan shares how she came to establish her lab in the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science at University College Dublin and sage advice for scholars from undergrads to postdocs.

research news

Growing functioning brain tissue in 3D

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have succeeded in inducing human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing tantalizing clues in the quest to recreate neural structures in the laboratory. One of the primary goals of stem-cell research is to be able to replace damaged body parts with tissues grown from undifferentiated stem cells.

research news

First-ever view of protein structure may lead to better anxiety drugs

When new medicines are invented, the drug may hit the intended target and nullify the symptoms, but nailing a bull's eye -- one that produces zero side effects -- can be quite elusive.

New research conducted at Michigan State University and published in the current issue of Science has, for the first time, revealed the crystal structure of a key protein, TSPO, which is associated with several forms of anxiety disorders. By identifying the structure at the atomic level, scientists can now pinpoint where drugs may interact with the protein.

research news

Salk scientists discover how a "mini-brain" in the spinal cord aids in balance

Walking across an icy parking lot in winter–and remaining upright–takes intense concentration. But a new discovery suggests that much of the balancing act that our bodies perform when faced with such a task happens unconsciously, thanks to a cluster of neurons in our spinal cord that function as a “mini-brain” to integrate sensory information and make the necessary adjustments to our muscles so that we don’t slip and fall.

research news

Complex Environments Push 'Brain' Evolution

Little animations trying to master a computer game are teaching neuroscience researchers how the brain evolves when faced with difficult tasks.

Neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University have programmed animated critters that they call "animats." The critters have a rudimentary neural system made of eight nodes: two sensors, two motors, and four internal computers that coordinate sensation, movement and memory.

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