Neuron to Something

We are still in the dark about many of the brain’s details, but scientists are constantly searching for new ways to switch on lights inside. These green-coloured branches are nerves in a mouse brain, genetically engineered to produce fluorescence. Remarkable as this technology is, it is actually fairly old. Yet hidden between the glowing branches, a new technique shows a different type of brain activity. The purple-coloured speckles are mRNAs – messenger molecules vital to building and maintaining life. This brain is encased in a special jelly, fixing the mRNAs in place so they can be lit up with a technique called single-molecule FISH. Dotted throughout the green nerves, these particular messenger molecules produce scaffolding to support nerve endings. Investigating mRNA patterns in human brains may pinpoint differences between healthy nerves and those suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Written by John Ankers

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Stem Cells Used to Find New Uses for ‘Old’ Drugs

Researchers have developed a system to speed up screening of existing drugs that might work against an aggressive and rare form of pediatric brain cancer called Group 3 medulloblastoma. Growing cells taken from those patients’ tumors is difficult, so instead the scientists genetically reprogrammed human neural stem cells to behave like medulloblastoma cells. They then compared those cells’ genetic profile with the profiles of hundreds of common, lab-grown human cancer cells already matched with existing drugs known to work against them. Using this method, the scientists zeroed in on a group of compounds that might work against the rare medulloblastoma, one of which is already in early clinical trials in children with various brain tumors.

Working with a lab model of medulloblastoma from human cells rather than mouse cells, the researchers can be more confident that patient responses to the screened drugs will be similar, according to Eric Raabe, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

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Funding: Funding for the study was provided by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, Giant Food’s Pediatric Cancer Research Fund, the Spencer Grace Foundation, the Deming Family, the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation, the National Cancer Institute (P30 CA006973, U01 CA176152, R01 CA154480, R01 CA109467), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (R01 NS055089), the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R01 GM074024) and the Comprehensive Cancer Center Freiburg.

Raise your voice in support of expanding federal funding for life-saving medical research by joining the AAMC’s advocacy community.

Image JD4230 (Tay-Sachs Disease, illustration)

An illustration of Tay-Sachs disease, a rare, inherited disorder that progressively destroys neurons in the brain. 

Tay-Sachs is most commonly seen during infancy as development begins to slow and muscles begin to weaken. Fatty substances in the brain, known as GM2 gangliosides (green), are used as an energy source but become toxic in large concentrations.


Children affected by Tay-Sachs lack a lysosomal enzyme necessary to break down these fat molecules, due to a mutated gene. The disease eventually progesses into seizures, vision and hearing loss, intellectual disability, and paralysis as more neurons absorb these toxic fats without the ability to break them down. As a result, most infants only live until early childhood.

© Evan Oto / Science Source

11 Things Only People Who Suppress Their Emotions Will Understand

Originally posted by reigns-karma

Some of us carry catastrophic storms in our hearts and minds wherever we go. They try to keep everything bottled in as they have trouble expressing themselves or nobody’s listening.

When they do react , they are reacting to not only the current situation but the many like it before. If two or more of these aspects relate to you then I’d suggest you start venting and seeking avenues of love and acceptance for yourself (and the safety of others).

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Study Shows That “Male” And “Female” Brains Are A Myth

Originally posted by camicosmos

A recent study proves that “all male” and “all female” brains are rare and that most people are in the middle.

Awareness about gender fluidity has been increasing in recent years as sexuality and identity are being questioned and the current wave of feminism challenges traditional gender roles and the supposed abilities of each sex.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences further challenged the assumed differences between the sexes by studying the brains of 1,400 males and females to determine if there really are distinct differences. Find out what we discovered below:

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How Interpreters Juggle Two Languages at Once

For most of history, interpretation was mainly done consecutively, with speakers and interpreters making pauses to allow each other to speak. But after the advent of radio technology, a new simultaneous interpretation system was developed in the wake of World War II. In the simultaneous mode, interpreters instantaneously translate a speaker’s words into a microphone while he speaks, without pauses. Those in the audience can choose the language in which they want to follow.  

On the surface it all looks seamless, but behind the scenes, human interpreters work incessantly to ensure every idea gets across as intended. And that is no easy task.

It takes about two years of training for already fluent bilingual professionals to expand their vocabulary and master the skills necessary to become a conference interpreter. To get used to the unnatural task of speaking while they listen, students shadow speakers and repeat their every word exactly as heard, in the same language. In time, they begin to paraphrase what is said, making stylistic adjustments as they go. At some point a second language is introduced. Practicing in this way creates new neural pathways in the interpreter’s brain and the constant effort of reformulation gradually becomes second nature.  

Over time, and through much hard work, the interpreter masters a vast array of tricks to keep up with speed, deal with challenging terminology and handle a multitude of foreign accents. They may resort to acronyms to shorten long names, choose generic terms over specific, or refer to slides and other visual aids. They can even leave a term in the original language while they search for the most accurate equivalent.

Interpreters are also skilled at keeping aplomb in the face of chaos. Remember: they have no control over who is going to say what or how articulate the speaker will sound. A curve ball can be thrown at any time. Also, they often perform to thousands of people and in very intimidating settings, like the UN General Assembly. To keep their emotions in check, they carefully prepare for an assignment, building glossaries in advance, reading voraciously about the subject matter, and reviewing previous talks on the topic.

Finally, interpreters work in pairs. While one colleague is busy translating incoming speeches in real time, the other gives support by locating documents, looking up words and tracking down pertinent information. Because simultaneous interpretation requires intense concentration, every 30 minutes the pair switches roles. Success is heavily dependent on skillful collaboration.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How interpreters juggle two languages at once - Ewandro Magalhaes

Animation by @rewfoe

13 Impressive Psychology Tricks that Will Make Your Life Easier

Originally posted by thelucidnation

Every human being is a unique universe, but psychologists who have a keen eye for details keep discovering new behavioral patterns that are believed to be rooted in our childhood and can be applied to everyone.

We decided to share these useful psychology tricks; maybe they will positively affect your communication skills and make your life easier in some way.

  1. If you have the feeling that someone is watching you, just yawn and look around. If someone is really stalking you, he will yawn too, since yawing is highly contagious.

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