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Robert Bruner & Filippa Lentzos The Netflix series Stranger Things, launching its second season today, centers on Eleven, a girl with psychic powers who has escaped a dark and psychologically abusive government program that seeks to harness and weaponize her powers. While Stranger Things is a work of science fiction, it is not as far removed from reality as it initially seems. The series is rooted in a decades-long (but long defunct) CIA research program called MKULTRA, which involved bizarre, top-secret research on how to deliberately produce behaviors and emotions—such as fear, anxiety, or confusion. While MKULTRA is infamous for its attempts to control the mind through hypnosis and paranormal phenomena, its researchers primarily concentrated on the use of pharmaceuticals and mind-bending drugs such as hallucinogenic mushrooms, marijuana, heroin, LSD, and truth serums to make intelligence targets more cooperative in questioning and more willing to act as agents of the United States. Ultimately, the project failed because of a lack of scientific understanding of the inner workings of the brain and how to manipulate it. But today, neuroscience appears to be breaking down previous technical barriers to the exogenous control of emotion, behavior, and ultimately the mind. Scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of the biological basis of behavior and cognition have given rise to numerous treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. These treatments have improved the quality of life for many people all over the world. But these technologies have dual-use potential. Psychiatric drugs used to treat anxiety, depression, or mania can force a person to experience those same emotions. These drugs work by returning overactive or underactive neural signaling associated with mental disease to normal levels. The same principles, however, can be used on healthy individuals to manipulate their brain chemistry and change their behavior and emotions. These drugs can be used on individuals as a form of psychological torture—or could be deployed on the battlefield to quickly incapacitate, or change the emotions of, a large group. Additionally, due to growing knowledge of the neural mechanisms active during memory formation, it may become possible to enhance or delete memories—or even, using emerging brain-stimulation techniques, transfer thoughts from one individual to another.

Keyword: Emotions; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24256 - Posted: 10.28.2017

By Andy Coghlan For the first time, female dark-eyed juncos have been found to burst into song in the wild. Although many female tropical birds sing, singing females are rare among northern, temperate songbirds. However, the behaviour is now becoming more common, and climate change may mean it becomes even more widespread. Dustin Reichard of Ohio Wesleyan University knew that female dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis) sometimes sang in captivity, but only after being injected with testosterone. To find out if they sang in the wild, he and his colleagues goaded them by placing a live, caged female in their territories. The researchers also played recordings of a soft trill that females make when they are receptive to mating. In all, 17 females, along with 25 males, interacted with the caged females. Half the females dived and lunged at them, and a minority also performed aggressive tail-spreads not normally seen in females. Three of the females sang songs similar to those of males. “The context in which the songs were observed – responding to a female intruder – suggests these songs have an aggressive, territorial function,” says Reichard. “But we can’t say whether female song is specific to female intruders without also measuring their response to male intruders.” The females also reacted badly to attempts by males to woo the intruder female, both with song and other courtship behaviours such as puffing up their feathers and spreading their tails. Dark-eyed juncos are monogamous, and the females sought to keep their mates faithful by aggressively chasing them away from the rival female. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Animal Communication
Link ID: 24255 - Posted: 10.28.2017

A new study published in the journal Neuron sheds light on the normal function of LRRK2, the most common genetic cause for late-onset Parkinson’s disease. The study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health. For more than 10 years, scientists have known that mutations in the LRRK2 gene can lead to Parkinson’s disease, yet both its role in the disease and its normal function in the brain remain unclear. In a study in mice, researchers have now found that LRRK is necessary for the survival of dopamine-containing neurons in the brain, the cells most affected by Parkinson’s. Importantly, this finding could alter the design of treatments against the disease. “Since its discovery, researchers have been trying to define LRRK2 function and how mutations may lead to Parkinson’s disease,” said Beth-Anne Sieber, Ph.D., program director at NINDS. “The findings in this paper emphasize the importance of understanding the normal role for genes associated with neurodegenerative disorders.” LRRK2 is found along with a closely related protein, LRRK1, in the brain. A mutation in LRRK2 alone can eventually produce Parkinson’s disease symptoms and brain pathology in humans as they age. In mice, however, LRRK2 loss or mutation does not lead to the death of dopamine-producing neurons, possibly because LRRK1 plays a complementary or compensatory role during the relatively short, two-year mouse lifespan.

Keyword: Parkinsons
Link ID: 24254 - Posted: 10.28.2017

By Rachel Schraer & Joey D'Urso People across the UK will wake up having gained an hour's sleep on Sunday morning, as the clocks go back heralding darker evenings and shorter days. But how much do we know about sleep and its impact on our lives, from our health and mood, to how long we'll live? 1. We're told to get our eight hours We often hear that we should all be getting eight hours' sleep a night. Organisations from the NHS to the US National Sleep Foundation recommend it. But where does this advice come from? Studies carried out around the world, looking at how often diseases occur in different groups of people across a population, have come to the same conclusion: both short sleepers and long sleepers are more likely to have a range of diseases, and to live shorter lives. But it's hard to tell whether it is short sleep that is causing disease or whether it is a symptom of a less healthy lifestyle. Short sleepers are generally defined as those who regularly get less than six hours' sleep and long sleepers generally more than nine or 10 hours' a night. Pre-puberty, children are recommended to get as much as 11 hours' sleep a night, however, and up to 18 hours a day for newborn babies. Teenagers should sleep for up to 10 hours a night. Shane O'Mara, professor of experimental brain research at Trinity College Dublin, says that, while it's difficult to tell whether poor sleep is a cause or a symptom of poor health, these relationships feed off each other. © 2017 BBC.

Keyword: Sleep
Link ID: 24253 - Posted: 10.28.2017

By Matthew Hutson Artificial intelligence has taken us one baby step closer to the mind-reading machines of science fiction. Researchers have developed “deep learning” algorithms—roughly modeled on the human brain—to decipher, you guessed it, the human brain. First, they built a model of how the brain encodes information. As three women spent hours viewing hundreds of short videos, a functional MRI machine measured signals of activity in the visual cortex and elsewhere. A popular type of artificial neural network used for image processing learned to associate video images with brain activity. As the women watched additional clips, the algorithm’s predicted activity correlated with actual activity in a dozen brain regions. It also helped the scientists visualize which features each area of the cortex was processing. Another network decoded neural signals: Based on a participant’s brain activity, it could predict with about 50% accuracy what she was watching (by selecting one of 15 categories including bird, airplane, and exercise). If the network had trained on data from a different woman’s brain, it could still categorize the image with about 25% accuracy, the researchers report this month in Cerebral Cortex. The network could also partially reconstruct what a participant saw, turning brain activity into pixels, but the resulting images were little more than white blobs. The researchers hope their work will lead to the reconstruction of mental imagery, which uses some of the same brain circuits as visual processing. Translating from the mind’s eye into bits could allow people to express vivid thoughts or dreams to computers or to other people without words or mouse clicks, and could help those with strokes who have no other way to communicate. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Vision; Brain imaging
Link ID: 24252 - Posted: 10.28.2017

Nicola Davis Patients undergoing open heart surgery in the afternoon have a lower risk of potentially fatal complications than those undergoing operations in the morning, new research suggests. The study found that events including heart attacks and heart failure were less common among those who had undergone a valve replacement operation in the afternoon. The finding appears to be linked to the ability of the heart tissue to recover after being starved of blood supply during surgery – an effect the researchers say is influenced by the cells’ biological or “circadian” clock. Overweight patients less likely to die in hospital after heart operations Read more While the study suggests patients might fare better if they undergo afternoon surgery, Professor David Montaigne, first author of the research from the University of Lille in France, said it also highlighted another approach to reduce complications. “We have to find a drug that can alter the circadian clock to induce a jet lag,” he said, noting that it could also help to improve patient outcomes for heart attacks and organ transplantation. Writing the in Lancet, Montaigne and colleagues report how they looked at the outcomes of 596 patients, half of whom had valve surgery in the morning, and half in the afternoon. While 18% of morning surgery patients experienced a major cardiac event – such as a heart attack or heart failure –in the following 500 days, only 9% of those who had afternoon surgery experienced such events. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 24251 - Posted: 10.27.2017

By RONI CARYN RABIN Can you be fit and healthy, even if you’re overweight? And will working out, despite the extra pounds, reduce your risk of a heart attack? The idea that you can be “fat but fit” has long been controversial. While health experts endorse physical activity as beneficial, many doctors view the concept of being “fat but fit” with suspicion. Now a new study, believed to be the largest of its kind, suggests that even when overweight or obese people are free of health complications, they are still more likely to develop heart disease than their peers who aren’t overweight. It didn’t matter whether obese people were free from diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, a condition sometimes referred to as “metabolically healthy obesity.” As long as they were obese, they were at modestly higher risk for having a stroke, at nearly 50 percent greater risk of coronary heart disease and had nearly double the risk of developing heart failure than people who were not overweight and in similar metabolic health. People who were metabolically healthy but considered merely overweight were at a 30 percent greater risk of coronary heart disease compared to their normal weight and metabolically healthy peers. “The bottom line is that metabolically healthy obesity doesn’t exist,” said Dr. Rishi Caleyachetty, of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham in England, who was the lead author of the paper, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. “Obesity is not a benign condition.” © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 24250 - Posted: 10.27.2017

Bill Chappell It has the power to save lives by targeting opioid overdoses — something that kills more than 140 Americans every day. And now Narcan, the nasal spray that can pull a drug user back from an overdose, is being carried by all of Walgreens' more than 8,000 pharmacies. "By stocking Narcan in all our pharmacies, we are making it easier for families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it is needed," said Walgreens vice president Rick Gates. The pharmacy chain is making the move as America struggles to respond to an opioid epidemic that President Trump is declaring a national emergency on Thursday, hoping to fight the opioid crisis that has struck families and communities from rural areas to cities. Calling the Walgreens move "an important milestone," Seamus Mulligan, CEO of Narcan maker Adapt Pharma, said that letting people get the medicine "without an individual prescription in 45 states is critical in combating this crisis." In recent years, both Walgreens, the nation's No. 2 pharmacy chain, and CVS, the No. 1 chain, have moved to widen access to Narcan and other products that contain naloxone, a fast-acting overdose antidote. As of last month, CVS reportedly offered prescription-free naloxone in 43 states. The chain has said that its pharmacies "in most communities have naloxone on hand and can dispense it the same day or ordered for the next business day." © 2017 npr

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24249 - Posted: 10.27.2017

As a ballet dancer in a former life, countless rehearsal hours in pointe shoes once landed me in a podiatrist’s office with a particularly inflamed ingrown toenail. To my surprise – and the doctor’s – a typical injection of local anesthesia did nothing to numb the searing pain as his knife dug into my big toe. It was not until a second full injection made my toe the size of a golf ball that I became blissfully unaware of the pain. Was my hair color to blame? It is, after all, a rumor every redhead has heard: we feel more pain and need more painkillers. A look at the published research suggests that the genes that determine my hair color may play a role, but the science itself is murky. What makes a redhead? Our luster-filled locks derive from a pair of mutated genes. For most people, hair color is determined by the melanocortin-1 receptor, or MC1R gene that leads to the production of a brown-black melanin pigment called eumelanin. The more eumelanin created by this gene, the darker and blacker the hair. Most redheads have a recessive version of the MC1R gene caused by the pairing of three possible mutant alleles. The resulting gene expression shuts off eumelanin production, shifting the dominant pigment to the reddish-toned pheomelanin. McGill University behavioral neuroscientist Jeffrey Mogil examined the gene as part of his research on the perception and inhibition of pain. “The purpose of this MC1R gene is to produce dark pigments. If it works, it does, and if it doesn’t, it produces pigment that isn’t dark like it’s supposed to be. So, it really is a dysfunction,” he said.

Keyword: Pain & Touch; Genes & Behavior
Link ID: 24248 - Posted: 10.27.2017

By Alice Klein Zapping the brain to relieve depression can spark fits of fury in a small number of people, psychiatrists warn. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is increasingly being used to treat a range of conditions, from depression and addiction to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In it, electrodes attached to the scalp emit weak currents that help strengthen electrical brain circuits. To treat depression, the current is usually applied to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – a brain area involved in regulating the emotions. There is now good evidence that this lifts mood in some people. However, it also appears to trigger anger in rare cases, say Galen Chin-Lun Hung and Ming-Chyi Huang at Taipei City Hospital in Taiwan. They recently reported two people at their psychiatric facility who had uncharacteristic outbursts of fury after receiving tDCS. The first was a 39-year-old woman with severe depression, low energy and suicidal thoughts who hadn’t responded to antidepressants. Straight after tDCS treatment, she became agitated, began yelling angrily and felt the urge to “tear everything apart”. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Depression; Emotions
Link ID: 24247 - Posted: 10.27.2017

Angus Chen Tobacco companies put a lot of effort into giving cigarettes sex appeal, but the more sensual smoke might actually belong to marijuana. Some users have said pot is a natural aphrodisiac, despite scientific literature turning up mixed results on the subject. At the very least, a study published Friday in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that people who smoke more weed are having more sex than those who smoke less or abstain. But whether it's cause or effect, isn't clear. The researchers pulled together data from roughly 50,000 people who participated in an annual Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey during various years between 2002 and 2015. "We reported how often they smoke – monthly, weekly or daily – and how many times they've had sex in the last month," says Dr. Michael Eisenberg, a urologist at Stanford University Medical Center and the senior author on the study. "What we found was compared to never-users, those who reported daily use had about 20 percent more sex. So over the course of a year, they're having sex maybe 20 more times." People who consumed marijuana daily had sex 7.1 times a month, on average, for women and 6.9 times for men. Women who didn't use marijuana at all had sex 6 times a month, on average, while men who didn't use marijuana had sex an average of 5.6 times a month. © 2017 npr

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24246 - Posted: 10.27.2017

Megan Molteni For patients with epilepsy, or cancerous brain lesions, sometimes the only way to forward is down. Down past the scalp and into the skull, down through healthy grey matter to get at a tumor or the overactive network causing seizures. At the end of the surgery, all that extra white and grey matter gets tossed in the trash or an incinerator. Well, not all of it. At least, not in Seattle. For the last few years, doctors at a number of hospitals in the Emerald City have been saving those little bits and blobs of brain, sticking them on ice, and rushing them off in a white van across town to the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Scientists there have been keeping the tissue on life support long enough to tease out how individual neurons look, act, and communicate. And today they’re sharing the first peek at these cells in a freely available public database. It provides a more intimate, intricate look into the circuitry of the human brain than ever before. And it’s just the beginning of a much larger effort to build a complete catalog of human brain cells. This first release includes electrical readings from a few hundred living neurons—all recently removed from 36 neurosurgery patients in Seattle area hospitals. For 100 of those cells, Allen Institute researchers built 3-D models of their branching structures, which they can use to simulate patterns of pulses and zaps. Scientists can see where in the brain neurons start and stop, and how current flows and spreads a signal throughout a neuronal network—signals that might move a muscle, or make a memory.

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 24245 - Posted: 10.26.2017

By Deirdre Sackett A few years ago, I watched a YouTube video called “Virtual Barbershop.” It was one of those viral videos that attempted to be somewhat educational. It featured (somewhat silly) barbershop sounds recorded with a special microphone that made the sounds appear as if in 3-D, to demonstrate how the brain localizes sounds. Although it was meant to be funny and a bit of a gag video, I noticed that some of the 3-D sounds actually relaxed me. In fact, I realized it was the same calming feeling I got when watching, of all things, Bob Ross’ “Joy of Painting” videos. Curious, I watched some of Bob’s YouTube videos, and sure enough, his soothing voice, brushing and tapping sounds, and calm, deliberate actions had me nearly falling asleep. By some happy little accident, I noticed a “recommended” video in the YouTube side bar called “Oh, such a good 3-D ASMR video.” I immediately felt relaxed upon hearing the sounds in the video, and even felt a small “tingle” in my head. That’s how I discovered that I had ASMR. ASMR? It sounds like some horrible affliction—an acronym for a weird, one-in-100 million condition. “Hi, I’m Deirdre, and I have ASMR.” What is it—and why is my brain tingling? © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Hearing; Emotions
Link ID: 24244 - Posted: 10.26.2017

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS Do brains trump brawn? A remarkable new study of how the human body prioritizes its inner workings found that if you intensely think at the same time as you intensely exercise, your performance in both thinking and moving can worsen. But your muscles’ performance will decline much more than your brain’s will, the study found. The results raise interesting questions about the roles that our body’s wide-ranging abilities may have played in the evolution of humans and also whether a hard workout is the ideal time to be cogitating. Compared to almost all other animals, we humans have disproportionately large brains for our size. Our supersized cranial contents probably provided an advantage during our evolution as a species. Smart creatures presumably could have outwitted predators and outmaneuvered prey, keeping themselves fed, uneaten and winners in the biological sweepstakes to pass on their genes. But most other species eschewed developing similarly outsized brains during evolution, because large brains carry a hefty metabolic cost. Brains are extraordinarily hungry organs, requiring, ounce for ounce, more calories to sustain their operations than almost any other tissue, and these caloric demands rise when the brain is hard at work. Thinking demands considerable bodily fuel. In order to feed and maintain these large brains, early humans’ bodies had to make certain trade-offs, most evolutionary biologists agree. Our digestive systems shrank during evolution, for one thing, since food processing is also metabolically ravenous. But whether a similar trade-off occurred with our muscles has remained in doubt. Muscles potentially provided another route to survival during our species’ early days. With sufficient brawn, animals, including people, could physically overpower prey and sprint from danger. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Attention
Link ID: 24243 - Posted: 10.26.2017

Aimee Cunningham Vaping e-cigarettes with high amounts of nicotine appears to impact how often and how heavily teens smoke and vape in the future, a new study finds. In 2016, an estimated 11 percent of U.S. high school students used e-cigarettes. Past research has found that that teen vaping can lead to smoking (SN: 9/19/15, p. 14). The new study, published online October 23 in JAMA Pediatrics, is the first look at whether vaping higher amounts of nicotine is associated with more frequent and more intense vaping and cigarette use in the future. Researchers at the University of Southern California surveyed 181 10th-graders from 10 high schools in the Los Angeles area who had reported vaping in the previous 30 days, then followed up six months later, when the students were 11th-graders. The teens answered questions about how much and how often they had smoked and vaped in the past 30 days and about the amount of nicotine in their vaping liquid. The researchers categorized the amount of nicotine as none, low (up to 5 milligrams per milliliter), medium (6 to 17 mg/mL) or high (18 mg/mL or more). With each step up in nicotine concentration, teens were about twice as likely to report frequent smoking versus no smoking at the six-month follow-up. Teens who vaped a high-nicotine liquid smoked seven times as many cigarettes per day as those who vaped without nicotine. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017.

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24242 - Posted: 10.26.2017

By KAREN WEINTRAUB In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Jane Goodall started attributing personalities to the chimpanzees she followed in Gombe National Park in what is now Tanzania. In her descriptions, some were more playful or aggressive, affectionate or nurturing. Many scientists at the time were horrified, she recalled. Considered an amateur — she didn’t yet have her Ph.D. — they contended she was inventing personality traits for animals. Dr. Goodall, now 83, said in a phone interview on Monday from her home in England that scientists thought “I was guilty of the worst kind of anthropomorphism.” But time has borne out her insights. Chimpanzees in the wild have personalities similar to those in captivity, and both strongly overlap with traits that are familiar in humans, a new study published in Scientific Data confirms. The new examination of chimpanzees at Gombe updates personality research conducted on 24 animals in 1973 to include more than 100 additional chimps that were evaluated a few years ago. The animals were individually assessed by graduate students in the earlier study, and in the latest by Tanzanian field assistants, on personality traits like agreeableness, extroversion, depression, aggression and self-control. Researchers used different questionnaires to assess the chimps’ traits in the two studies, but most of the personality types were consistent across the two studies. These traits seen among wild chimps matched ones seen among captive animals, the study found, and are similar to those described in people. Dr. Goodall, who is promoting a new documentary, “Jane,” about those early days of her research, said she’s not surprised. She knew from childhood experiences with guinea pigs, tortoises and her favorite dog, Rusty, that animals have personalities that are quite familiar. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Evolution; Emotions
Link ID: 24241 - Posted: 10.25.2017

By Jessica Hamzelou Ever realised you have driven yourself home but haven’t really been paying attention? Brain scans have revealed that when your mind wanders, it switches into “autopilot” mode, enabling you to carry on doing tasks quickly, accurately and without conscious thought. Our autopilot mode seems to be run by a set of brain structures called the default mode network (DMN). It was discovered in the 1990s, when researchers noticed that people lying in brain scanners show patterns of brain activity even when they aren’t really doing anything. This research provided the first evidence that our brains are active even when we aren’t consciously putting our minds to work. But what does the DMN do? Several studies have found that it seems to be involved in assessing past events and planning for the future. Others suggest the network is involved in self-awareness – although this has been called into question by findings that rats and newborns appear to have a version of the DMN too. It is unlikely that rats are conscious of themselves in the same way that humans are, says Deniz Vatansever at the University of York, UK. Instead, the DMN must have a more basic function, common to all animals. Vatansever and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge wondered if the network might help us do things without paying much attention, such as tying our shoelaces, or driving along a familiar road. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Attention
Link ID: 24240 - Posted: 10.25.2017

By Warren Cornwall For years, scientists and universities have complained about the patchwork of U.S. regulations governing the welfare of animals used in research. Studies involving rabbits and larger mammals, for example, are overseen chiefly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. Federally funded studies of rats, mice, and birds are subject to different rules and a different overseer, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. Many privately funded animal studies, meanwhile, get relatively little federal oversight. “It’s a crazy quilt,” says Ross McKinney, chief science officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Washington, D.C. Now, AAMC and three allied groups are pushing for sweeping changes to animal research rules. In a report released this week, the groups call for moving all oversight to a single, unnamed agency, conducting less frequent lab inspections, and giving researchers greater say in crafting new rules. The changes would ensure “that we’re protecting the research animals,” McKinney says. “But we want to do so in a way that’s consistent, coherent, and effective.” The political climate is ripe for reform, with a new law calling for federal officials to streamline regulation of animal research and a White House that dislikes regulations. But many of the recommendations aren’t sitting well with groups concerned about animal research. “It’s clear this would negatively impact animal welfare,” says Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at The Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C. The changes would water down government oversight, the critics charge, and give researchers too much say over how their work is regulated. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Keyword: Animal Rights
Link ID: 24239 - Posted: 10.25.2017

By Corinna Hartmann, Andreas Jahn Medical historians have recently published accounts that show neurologists were indeed complicit with the Nazis—and became victims if they were classified as “non-Aryan. Heiner Fangerau, who teaches the history and ethics of medicine at University Hospital Düsseldorf—along with colleagues Michael Martin at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf and Axel Karenberg from the University of Cologne—undertook extensive research on neurologists during the Third Reich for the German Society of Neurology. Fangerau discussed new findings with Corinna Hartmann and Andreas Jahn of Gehirn&Geist, the psychology and neuroscience specialty publication of Spektrum der Wissenschaft, and the German sister publication of Scientific American. An edited transcript of the interview follows. Professor Fangerau, your research project examines the role played by neurologists during the Nazi period. Why is this only happening 70 years after the fact? Advertisement There were several different phases in which people dealt with National Socialism after World War II. Immediately after 1945 the Allies pursued a policy of denazification. After that German society as a whole attempted to suppress its dark past. Many members of the next generation, however, found it impossible to close their eyes: Students in the 1968 movement were angry that their parents were unwilling to deal openly with the “Third Reich.” The medical specialties took even longer to begin working through the past. As a result, their reappraisal of the crimes committed began only in the 1980s. Part of the reason why historical research into neurology has only been conducted systematically over the past several years is that neurology and psychiatry were forced into the same disciplinary framework in 1935. Before then neurology had begun to separate from psychiatry. The basic idea was to leave psychological phenomena that are difficult to understand to the psychiatrists and to concentrate on disorders that are anatomically demonstrable. The National Socialists nullified this effort. They believed that they could control these medical specialties more effectively if they brought them together in the Society of German Neurologists and Psychiatrists, which was dominated by psychiatrists committed to the ideology of racial hygiene. The chairman of the society was Ernst Rüdin, a psychiatrist. As a result, neurology has come to be viewed as less implicated. Historical research conducted since the late 1980s, however, paints a very different picture. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Genes & Behavior
Link ID: 24238 - Posted: 10.25.2017

By Roni Dengler One man’s neuron is another man’s knowledge. That’s the stance of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which this week released the first open-access database of live human brain cells. It contains data on the electrical properties of about 300 cortical neurons taken from 36 patients and 3D reconstructions of 100 of those cells, plus gene expression data from 16,000 neurons from three other patients. Working with Seattle, Washington–area neurosurgeons, the Allen Institute acquired healthy cells from the cortex—the outermost layer of the brain that coordinates perception, memory, thoughts, and consciousness—from patients undergoing surgery for epilepsy or brain tumors. Normally considered medical waste, these tissues can now provide scientists with a unique resource for understanding the human brain. That’s because most studies on single human brain cells use dead rather than living tissue, and many others rely on cells from common laboratory animals, especially mice. The new data should help researchers pin down what makes human brains unique from other species—and what makes for a healthy versus diseased brain. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Brain imaging
Link ID: 24237 - Posted: 10.25.2017