Chapter 13. Memory, Learning, and Development

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By James Gallagher People with higher levels of lithium in their drinking water appear to have a lower risk of developing dementia, say researchers in Denmark. Lithium is naturally found in tap water, although the amount varies. The findings, based on a study of 800,000 people, are not clear-cut. The highest levels cut risk, but moderate levels were worse than low ones. Experts said it was an intriguing and encouraging study that hinted at a way of preventing the disease. The study, at the University of Copenhagen, looked at the medical records of 73,731 Danish people with dementia and 733,653 without the disease. Tap water was then tested in 151 areas of the country. The results, published in JAMA Psychiatry, showed moderate lithium levels (between 5.1 and 10 micrograms per litre) increased the risk of dementia by 22% compared with low levels (below five micrograms per litre). However, those drinking water with the highest lithium levels (above 15 micrograms per litre) had a 17% reduction in risk. The researchers said: "This is the first study, to our knowledge, to investigate the association between lithium in drinking water and the incidence of dementia. "Higher long-term lithium exposure from drinking water may be associated with a lower incidence of dementia." Lithium is known to have an effect on the brain and is used as a treatment in bipolar disorder. However, the lithium in tap water is at much lower levels than is used medicinally. Experiments have shown the element alters a wide range of biological processes in the brain. © 2017 BBC.

Keyword: Alzheimers
Link ID: 23990 - Posted: 08.24.2017

By Alexander P. Burgoyne, David Z. Hambrick More than 60 years ago, Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the double-helical structure of deoxyribonucleic acid—better known as DNA. Today, for the cost of a Netflix subscription, you can have your DNA sequenced to learn about your ancestry and proclivities. Yet, while it is an irrefutable fact that the transmission of DNA from parents to offspring is the biological basis for heredity, we still know relatively little about the specific genes that make us who we are. That is changing rapidly through genome-wide association studies—GWAS, for short. These studies search for differences in people’s genetic makeup—their “genotypes”—that correlate with differences in their observable traits—their “phenotypes.” In a GWAS recently published in Nature Genetics, a team of scientists from around the world analyzed the DNA sequences of 78,308 people for correlations with general intelligence, as measured by IQ tests. The major goal of the study was to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms—or SNPs—that correlate significantly with intelligence test scores. Found in most cells throughout the body, DNA is made up of four molecules called nucleotides, referred to by their organic bases: cytosine (C), thymine (T), adenine (A), and guanine (G). Within a cell, DNA is organized into structures called chromosomes­. Humans normally have 23 pairs of chromosomes, with one in each pair inherited from each parent. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Intelligence; Genes & Behavior
Link ID: 23986 - Posted: 08.23.2017

By Madhumita Murgia CINCINNATI — Just before Christmas 2015, child psychiatrist Daniel Nelson noticed an unusual number of suicidal kids in the hospital emergency room. A 14-year-old girl with a parent addicted to opioids tried to choke herself with a seat belt. A 12-year-old transgender child hurt himself after being bullied. And a steady stream of kids arrived from the city’s west side, telling him they knew other kids — at school, in their neighborhoods — who had also tried to die. “I think there’s an increase in suicidal kids in Cincinnati,” Nelson told a colleague. “We need to start mapping this out.” So Nelson and his colleagues collected the addresses of 300 children admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with suicidal behavior over three months in early 2016, looking for patterns. Almost instantly, a disturbing one emerged: Price Hill, a poor community with a high rate of opioid overdoses, was home to a startling number of suicidal kids. “This is who is dying from opiates — people in their 20s and 30s. Think about what that population is,” Nelson said. “It’s parents.” Nelson says there may be a connection between the opioid epidemic and the increased risk of suicide in teenagers and children. (Luke Sharrett for The Washington Post) Now Nelson is working with county coroners across the nation to try to corroborate his theory, that trauma from the nation’s opioid epidemic could help explain an extraordinary increase in suicide among American children. Since 2007, the rate of suicide has doubled among children 10 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 24. The suicide rate among older teenage girls hit a 40-year high in 2015, according to newly released data from the National Center for Health Statistics. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 23985 - Posted: 08.23.2017

/ By Steven Lubet There is a memorable episode in the now-classic sitcom Scrubs in which the conniving Dr. Kelso unveils a plan to peddle useless “full body scans” as a new revenue stream for the perpetually cash-strapped Sacred Heart Hospital. The irascible but ultimately patient-protecting Dr. Cox objects loudly. “I think showing perfectly healthy people every harmless imperfection in their body just to scare them into taking invasive and often pointless tests is an unholy sin,” he says. Undeterred, Kelso launches an advertising campaign that promotes the scans in a tear-jerking television commercial and a billboard screaming “YOU may already be DYING.” Alarmist medical advertising is pretty funny on television, but it can be far more troubling in real life. Although I’ve never been alerted to impending death, I recently received an advertisement from my own trusted health care provider warning that I may have Alzheimer’s disease, although I have no known symptoms and no complaints. As long-time patients at NorthShore University Health System, which is affiliated with the University of Chicago, my wife and I received two solicitations from its Center for Brain Health touting the development of “ways to slow brain aging and even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.” According to the ads, which arrived in both postcard and email form, there is “new hope for delaying — even preventing — aging brain diseases” through “genetic testing, advanced diagnostics, and lifestyle factors.” Copyright 2017 Undark

Keyword: Alzheimers
Link ID: 23978 - Posted: 08.19.2017

Nicola Davis The eternal sunshine of a spotless mind has come one step closer, say researchers working on methods to erase memories of fear. The latest study, carried out in mice, unpicks why certain sounds can stir alarming memories, and reveals a new approach to wiping such memories from the brain. The researchers say the findings could be used to either weaken or strengthen particular memories while leaving others unchanged. That, they say, could potentially be used to help those with cognitive decline or post-traumatic stress disorder by removing fearful memories while retaining useful ones, such as the sound of a dog’s bark. “We can use same approach to selectively manipulate only the pathological fear memory while preserving all other adaptive fear memories which are necessary for our daily lives,” said Jun-Hyeong Cho, co-author of the research from the University of California, Riverside. The research is the latest in a string of studies looking at ways to erase unpleasant memories, with previous work by scientists exploring techniques ranging from brain scans and AI to the use of drugs. Published in the journal Neuron by Cho and his colleague Woong Bin Kim, the research reveals how the team used genetically modified mice to examine the pathways between the area of the brain involved in processing a particular sound and the area involved in emotional memories, known as the amygdala. “These mice are special in that we can label or tag specific pathways that convey certain signals to the amygdala, so that we can identify which pathways are really modified as the mice learn to fear a particular sound,” said Cho. “It is like a bundle of phone lines,” he added. “Each phone line conveys certain auditory information to the amygdala.” © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Emotions; Learning & Memory
Link ID: 23974 - Posted: 08.18.2017

By Ingfei Chen, Spectrum In October 2010, Lisa and Eugene Jeffers learned that their daughter Jade, then nearly 2 and a half years old, has autism. The diagnosis felt like a double whammy. The parents were soon engulfed by stress from juggling Jade’s new therapy appointments and wrangling with their health insurance provider, but they now had an infant son to worry about, too. Autism runs in families. Would Bradley follow in his big sister’s footsteps? "We were on high alert,” Lisa Jeffers says. “There were times I would call his name, and he wouldn't look.” She says she couldn’t help but think: Is it because he's busy playing or because he has autism? In search of guidance, the parents signed Bradley up for a three-year study at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) MIND Institute, a half-hour drive from their home near Sacramento. Researchers there wanted answers to some of the same questions the couple had: What are the odds that infants like Bradley—younger brothers or sisters of a child with autism—will be on the spectrum too? Could experts detect autism in these babies early on, so that they might benefit from early intervention? The infant-sibling study at UC Davis is one of more than 20 similar long-running investigations across the United States, Canada and United Kingdom, the first of which began around 2000. These ‘baby sib’ studies, which collectively have followed thousands of children, are among the most ambitious and expensive projects in autism research. Many of the scientists who run them anticipated that by tracking this special population, they would be able to spot signs of autism before age 1, and ultimately create an infant screen for the condition. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Autism; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23973 - Posted: 08.18.2017

By WILLIAM GRIMES Marian C. Diamond, a neuroscientist who overturned long-held beliefs by showing that environmental factors can change the structure of the brain and that the brain continues to develop throughout one’s life, died on July 25 at her home in Oakland, Calif. She was 90. Her son Richard Diamond confirmed the death. Dr. Diamond’s most celebrated study was of the preserved brain of Albert Einstein, in the 1980s, but it was her work two decades earlier, at the University of California, Berkeley, that had the most lasting impact. Dr. Diamond was an instructor at Cornell University in the late 1950s when she read a paper in Science magazine showing that rats who navigated mazes quickly had a different brain chemistry than slower rats. They showed much higher levels of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that accelerates the transmission of neural signals. “What a thrill I had when my mind jumped immediately to the question, ‘I wonder if the anatomy of these brains would also show a difference in learning ability?’ ” Dr. Diamond wrote in an autobiographical essay for the Society for Neuroscience. She was able to test her theory after joining a team at Berkeley led by Mark R. Rosenzweig, one of the authors of the Science paper. To gauge the effects of environment on performance, Dr. Rosenzweig and his colleagues had begun raising rats in so-called enriched cages, outfitted with ladders and wheels, in the company of other rats. The rats in a control group were raised alone in bare cages. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 23966 - Posted: 08.17.2017

Alice H. Eagly It’s no secret that Silicon Valley employs many more men than women in tech jobs. What’s much harder to agree on is why. The recent anti-diversity memo by a now former Google engineer has pushed this topic into the spotlight. The writer argued there are ways to explain the gender gap in tech that don’t rely on bias and discrimination – specifically, biological sex differences. Setting aside how this assertion would affect questions about how to move toward greater equity in tech fields, how well does his wrap-up represent what researchers know about the science of sex and gender? As a social scientist who’s been conducting psychological research about sex and gender for almost 50 years, I agree that biological differences between the sexes likely are part of the reason we see fewer women than men in the ranks of Silicon Valley’s tech workers. But the road between biology and employment is long and bumpy, and any causal connection does not rule out the relevance of nonbiological causes. Here’s what the research actually says. There is no direct causal evidence that biology causes the lack of women in tech jobs. But many, if not most, psychologists do give credence to the general idea that prenatal and early postnatal exposure to hormones such as testosterone and other androgens affect human psychology. In humans, testosterone is ordinarily elevated in males from about weeks eight to 24 of gestation and also during early postnatal development. © 2010–2017, The Conversation US, Inc.

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23963 - Posted: 08.16.2017

Paul Martin Sir Patrick Bateson, who has died aged 79, was a scientist whose work advanced the understanding of the biological origins of behaviour. He will also be remembered as a man of immense warmth and kindness, whose success as a leader, teacher and administrator of science owed much to his collaborative spirit, generosity and good humour. He was a key figure in ethology – the biological study of animal behaviour. As well as being a conceptual thinker who revelled in painting the big theoretical picture, he was an accomplished experimental scientist. He published extensively, with more than 300 journal papers and several books to his name. His early research was on imprinting – a specialised form of early learning in which young animals rapidly learn about key features of their environment, such as the distinguishing characteristics of their parent or a desirable mate. He later worked with Gabriel Horn on unravelling the neurobiological mechanisms that underpin this learning. A related interest was the biology of mate choice, where he revealed how young animals could strike an optimal balance between outbreeding and inbreeding. His research achievements led to his election as fellow of the Royal Society in 1983. Another scientific focus was the role of play behaviour in the development of the individual. Studies with monkeys, cats and other species showed how experiences that are actively acquired through playing in early life help to build the physical, cognitive and social skills that are vital in later life. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23962 - Posted: 08.16.2017

By Andy Coghlan Can exercise during childhood protect you against memory loss many decades later? Exercise early in life seems to have lifelong benefits for the brain, in rats at least. “This is an animal study, but it indicates that physical activity at a young age is very important – not just for development, but for the whole lifelong trajectory of cognitive development during ageing,” says Martin Wojtowicz of the University of Toronto, Canada. “In humans, it may compensate for and delay the appearance of Alzheimer’s symptoms, possibly to the point of preventing them.” Wojtowicz’s team spilt 80 young male rats into two equal groups, and placed running wheels in the cages of one group for a period of six weeks. Around four months later – when the rats had reached middle age – the team taught all the rats to associate an electric shock with being in a specific box. When placed in the box, they froze with fear. Two weeks later, the team tested the rats in three scenarios: exactly the same box in the same room, the same box with the room arranged and lit differently, and a completely different box in a different room. The rats without access to a running wheel when they were young now froze the same proportion of times in each of these situations, suggesting they couldn’t remember which one was hazardous. But those that had been able to run in their youth froze 40 to 50 per cent less in both altered box settings. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd

Keyword: Alzheimers; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23959 - Posted: 08.15.2017

By Kate Kyle, CBC News Widespread, prolonged hunger that existed in residential schools is a contributing factor in the disproportionate health issues facing many Indigenous people, such as diabetes and obesity, according to an article published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Hunger is really central to the experiences of residential school survivors," says Ian Mosby who co-authored the article with Tracy Galloway, both with the University of Toronto. They say childhood malnutrition experienced in many government-funded schools is contributing to the higher risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease among Indigenous people in adulthood. "While this wasn't every single residential school," says Mosby, "it's common enough through survivor testimony that we need to start looking at hunger in residential schools as a real predictor of long-term health problems." Residential school kitchen 1920s Residential schools across Canada faced significant underfunding, along with inadequate cooking facilities and untrained staff. Historians and former students have described children getting "one or two pieces of stale bread for lunch. Rarely getting meat, rarely getting milk and butter, and few fruits and vegetables," says Mosby. ©2017 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Obesity; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23958 - Posted: 08.15.2017

Eric Deggans Like a lot of kids in high school, Sam worries that he doesn't fit in. "I'm a weirdo. That's what everyone says," declares the 18-year-old character at the center of Netflix's new dramatic comedy series Atypical. One reason Sam struggles to fit in: He has autism. As his character explains at the start of the first episode, sometimes he doesn't understand what people mean when they say things. And that makes him feel alone, even when he's not. Sam's family in Atypical is thrown in all sorts of new directions by his quest to date and find a girlfriend. Creator Robia Rashid says she wanted to tell a different kind of coming-of-age story, inspired by recent increases in autism diagnoses. "There are all these young people now who are on the spectrum, who know ... they're on the spectrum," she says. "And [they] are interested in things that every young person is interested in ... independence and finding connections and finding love." On-screen depictions of autism have come a long way since Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of Raymond Babbitt in the 1988 Oscar-winning film Rain Man. Hoffman's Babbitt focused obsessively on watching The People's Court and getting served maple syrup before his pancakes. He could also memorize half the names in a phone book in one reading and count the number of toothpicks on the floor, moments after they spilled out of the box. For Atypical, Rashid says she researched accounts of adults with autism, has several parents of autistic children working in her crew and hired an actor with autism to play a minor role. © 2017 npr

Keyword: Autism
Link ID: 23953 - Posted: 08.12.2017

An experimental drug appears to slow the progression of Niemann-Pick disease type C1 (NPC1), a fatal neurological disease, according to results of a clinical study led by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The study appears in The Lancet. NPC1 is a rare genetic disorder that primarily affects children and adolescents, causing a progressive decline in neurological and cognitive functions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any treatments for the condition. The drug, 2-hydroxypropyl-beta-cyclodextrin (VTS-270), is being tested under a cooperative research and development agreement, or CRADA, between NIH and Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In April 2017, Sucampo acquired Vtesse Inc., which previously had been developing VTS-270. “The results are very encouraging and support continued development of VTS-270 for treating NPC1,” said Forbes D. Porter, M.D., Ph.D., clinical director at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the study’s senior author. “Compared to untreated patients we followed in an earlier study, participants who received VTS-270 scored better on a scale used to evaluate disease severity and progression, including elements such as speech, cognition and mobility.” The study was a phase 1/2a clinical trial designed to test the drug’s safety and effectiveness. A group of 14 participants, ranging from ages 4 to 23 years, received the experimental drug once a month at NIH for 12 to 18 months. Another group of three participants received the drug every two weeks for 18 months at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Genes & Behavior
Link ID: 23952 - Posted: 08.12.2017

By Aggie Mika Individuals who possess an innate resilience to age-related brain pathologies may offer molecular clues to unexplored therapeutics for neurodegenerative disease. After having accidentally discovered rapid aging and disease in mice with mutations in the gene that encodes the protein klotho—named after the Greek Fate Clotho, daughter of Zeus and spinner of the thread of life—independent researchers have shown that some people with genetic variants that promote elevated klotho levels live longer and tend to stave off age-related cognitive decline. In a paper published today (August 8) in Cell Reports, scientists report that a fragment of klotho, similar to what winds up in circulation after cleavage from the cell membrane, boosted spatial and short-term memory in young and aging mice and improved both memory and mobility in a transgenic mouse model of neurodegenerative disease. Notably, in each type of mouse, the protein fragment was injected into the animals’ bodies either a day or a few hours before cognitive testing took place. Previously, neurologist and researcher Dena Dubal of the University of California, San Francisco, and others have demonstrated that transgenic overexpression of klotho throughout an organism’s lifespan produces similar cognitive improvements. Dubal’s current work, she says, provides a promising answer to a “big, burning question” of klotho’s therapeutic utility: “could you give it acutely, and would it increase cognition in a rapid way?” © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Keyword: Alzheimers
Link ID: 23942 - Posted: 08.10.2017

By Stephen Smith, Playing first-person shooter video games causes some users to lose grey matter in a part of their brain associated with the memory of past events and experiences, a new study by two Montreal researchers concludes. Gregory West, an associate professor of psychology at the Université de Montréal, says the neuroimaging study, published Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, is the first to find conclusive evidence of grey matter loss in a key part of the brain as a direct result of computer interaction. "A few studies have been published that show video games could have a positive impact on the brain, namely positive associations between action video games, first-person shooter games, and visual attention and motor control skills," West told CBC News. "To date, no one has shown that human-computer interactions could have negative impacts on the brain — in this case the hippocampal memory system." The four-year study by West and Véronique Bohbot, an associate professor of psychiatry at McGill University, looked at the impact of action video games on the hippocampus, the part of the brain that plays a critical role in spatial memory and the ability to recollect past events and experiences. The neuroimaging study's participants were all healthy 18- to 30-year-olds with no history of playing video games. Brain scans conducted on the participants before and after the experiment looked for differences in the hippocampus between players who favour spatial memory strategies and so-called response learners — that is, players whose way of navigating a game favours a part of the brain called the caudate nucleus, which helps us to form habits. ©2017 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Learning & Memory
Link ID: 23938 - Posted: 08.09.2017

Amy Maxmen Despite strides in maternal medicine, premature birth remains a vexing problem for obstetricians worldwide. But an analysis of medical records from almost 3 million pregnant women in California1 suggests that a surprisingly simple intervention — better sleep — might help to address the issue. Researchers found that women who had been diagnosed with insomnia or sleep apnea were about twice as likely as women without sleep disorders to deliver their babies more than six weeks early. “It seems obvious, but strangely this study has not been done before,” says Laura Jelliffe-Pawlowski, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and an author of the research, which was published on 8 August in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology1. “Seeing this relationship is important because we are just starved for interventions that can make a difference.” Public-health experts say that better treatment for pregnant women with serious sleep disorders could save babies' lives, and do so with approaches that avoid the use of medication. Every year, 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely — more than three weeks before the typical full-term pregnancy of 40 weeks. These children have less time to develop in the womb, and 1.1 million will die from birth-related complications. Many others are left with hearing impairment, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy and other health issues. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited,

Keyword: Sleep; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23937 - Posted: 08.09.2017

By Ben Guarino A sleeping brain can form fresh memories, according to a team of neuroscientists. The researchers played complex sounds to people while they were sleeping, and afterward the sleepers could recognize those sounds when they were awake. The idea that humans can learn while asleep, a concept sometimes called hypnopedia, has a long and odd history. It hit a particularly strange note in 1927, when New York inventor A. B. Saliger debuted the Psycho-phone. He billed the device as an “automatic suggestion machine.” The Psycho-phone was a phonograph connected to a clock. It played wax cylinder records, which Saliger made and sold. The records had names like “Life Extension,” “Normal Weight” or “Mating.” That last one went: “I desire a mate. I radiate love … My conversation is interesting. My company is delightful. I have a strong sex appeal.” Thousands of sleepers bought the devices, Saliger told the New Yorker in 1933. (Those included Hollywood actors, he said, though he declined to name names.) Despite his enthusiasm for the machine — Saliger himself dozed off to “Inspiration” and “Health” — the device was a bust. But the idea that we can learn while unconscious holds more merit than gizmos named Psycho-phone suggest. In the new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, neuroscientists demonstrated that it is possible to teach acoustic lessons to sleeping people. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Keyword: Sleep; Learning & Memory
Link ID: 23936 - Posted: 08.09.2017

By Daniel Barron Conrad was 17 months old when Dave, his grandfather, was babysitting him at their home in Temple, Texas. The two had been playing in the pool and went inside for a break. Dave set to unloading dishes in the dishwasher, unaware that Conrad had snuck back outside. As he finished the dishes, Dave looked out the window and noticed something odd. There was what looked like a floating bundle of clothes in the swimming pool. It was his grandson. Fortunately, Conrad responded to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), but it’s unclear how long his lungs—and his brain—went without oxygen. Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death in children to age four. As in Conrad’s case, CPR is fortunately very successful, with 66 percent of nearly drowned children surviving. But even when resuscitated, the seconds and minutes that the brain is deprived of oxygen come at a great cost. This type of damage is known as anoxic brain injury. Anoxic brain injury is a clinical term that indicates damage to the brain that occurs due to lack of oxygen. There is a spectrum of injury ranging from complete recovery to minor to widespread brain damage. Within this spectrum lies what is known as the disorders of consciousness, with the extent of damage being proportional to the loss of consciousness. In the case of nearly drowned children, the injury is frequently thought to be widespread. Nearly drowned children are labeled “minimally conscious” or even in a “persistent vegetative state” (with no consciousness) and the prevailing medical prognosis is grim: treatment and recovery is difficult if not impossible. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Brain Injury/Concussion
Link ID: 23926 - Posted: 08.08.2017

/ By Florence Williams The 17th century ushered in an astonishing age of scientific discovery, from Galileo’s positioning of the sun in the heavens to Newton’s Laws of Motion to Francis Bacon’s empiricism. Armed with new swagger and understanding, the scientific rationalists of the day figured the pivot from astronomy and physics to biology would be a piece of cake. The workings of the universe had been proved to adhere to laws and formulas. All would be properly unveiled in due time. “The bold men of science,” Edward Dolnick writes, “raced off to take on the mystery of life and promptly face-planted.” How mistaken they were. As Edward Dolnick writes in his amusing and informative “The Seeds of Life,” “The bold men of science raced off to take on the mystery of life and promptly face-planted.” In fact, they were fairly undone, partly by their own pigheaded biases and partly by the truly mystifying matters of genes and heredity, for which they were woefully ill prepared. It was not until 1875 that a German scientist finally put the sperm and the egg together conceptually. The journey to that insight was sometimes comical, sometimes misguided, and usually revealing of cultural mores, gender politics, and societal blind spots. Consider, for example, the common scientific belief that a woman’s contribution to baby-making must surely be minimal. Copyright 2017 Undark

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 23921 - Posted: 08.07.2017

Daniel Trotta NEW YORK (Reuters) - While President Donald Trump has thrust transgender people back into the conflict between conservative and liberal values in the United States, geneticists are quietly working on a major research effort to unlock the secrets of gender identity. A consortium of five research institutions in Europe and the United States, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center, George Washington University and Boston Children's Hospital, is looking to the genome, a person's complete set of DNA, for clues about whether transgender people are born that way. Two decades of brain research have provided hints of a biological origin to being transgender, but no irrefutable conclusions. Now scientists in the consortium have embarked on what they call the largest-ever study of its kind, searching for a genetic component to explain why people assigned one gender at birth so persistently identify as the other, often from very early childhood. (reut.rs/2w3Ozg9) Researchers have extracted DNA from the blood samples of 10,000 people, 3,000 of them transgender and the rest non-transgender, or cisgender. The project is awaiting grant funding to begin the next phase: testing about 3 million markers, or variations, across the genome for all of the samples.

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Genes & Behavior
Link ID: 23919 - Posted: 08.05.2017