johann gutenberg

Endocrine cells in the brain influence the optimization of behavior

A person exposed to stress can usually rapidly adapt the own behavior to the specific situation. Biochemical messenger substances in the brain or so-called neurotransmitters play a central role in this rapid transformation process. We know that hormones also have a stress-regulating function, but that their effects are more slowly apparent. However, recent findings reported by the team under Professor Soojin Ryu, leading researcher at the German Resilience Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany, indicate that this may not actually be the case. Using a combination of genetic and optical techniques, the research team has been able to demonstrate that corticotrophs, the cell populations that stimulate the adrenal cortex and produce the stress hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, can rapidly influence avoidance behavior immediately after the onset of a stress situation. This insight may contribute to the development of effective treatments that can facilitate the management of acute stress-induced reactions or might even be able to alleviate acute stress-related conditions. The findings have recently been published in the eminent journal Nature Communications.

The human body is controlled by two well-orchestrated systems, i.e., the hormonal system and the nervous system. The hypothalamus located in the middle of the basis of the brain has a key role here providing the link between the body and the other regions of the brain as well as directly and indirectly controlling a series of essential physiological vegetative functions. In addition, it is the most important control organ of the human endocrine system (hormonal system), because it regulates when and how much of a hormone is produced. Both the hypothalamus and its production of hormone are also subject to the influences of emotional stress. The pituitary gland or hypophysis is connected to the hypothalamus and together they form a single functional unit called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

Hormones secreted by the hypothalamus include the so-called releasing hormones, such as the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). This stimulates the production of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTCH) in the pituitary gland. ACTH is a hormone secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary and it regulates the production of other hormones, such as the stress hormone cortisol (hydrocortisone).

It can be basically assumed that the neurotransmitters of the central nervous system rapidly determine whether fight or flight behavior is to develop in a given situation. To date, medical science has conjectured that the stress-regulating effects of the hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis come into play far more slowly. Stress researchers found it very problematic to establish the concrete role of the HPA axis in the rapid adaptation of behavior in a stress situation in more detail in standard animal models. This is because the location of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in mammals makes them difficult to access. To overcome these obstacles, Professor Soojin Ryu’s work group at the German Resilience Center at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz decided to create an innovative optogenetic research technique. They managed to develop a genetically modified zebrafish larva in which they were able to manipulate the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis using light and thus observe the resultant changes to the reactions of the modified cells.

Two original concepts have been brought together in the new technique of Professor Soojin Ryu’s group: On the one hand, it employs optogenetic methods, i.e., a combination of optical and genetic techniques. This makes it possible to precisely control, in a targeted and extremely rapid manner, the functional reactions of genetically modified cells. The process first involves the modification of light-sensitive proteins using genetic techniques. These are then introduced into specific target cells or tissues. The functioning of these proteins can then be regulated using light and the reaction of the modified cells can be controlled. In addition, Ryu’s approach also pioneers the use of a new animal model in stress research, here the zebrafish. The advantage of the zebrafish, especially the transparent larvae of these small tropical fish of the group of teleosts, is that their development in the embryonic phase is similar to that in humans. They also mature very rapidly and are thus ideal for the purposes of genetic research. Moreover, the transparency of the larvae makes it easy to observe the tissue sections of their bodies.

The researchers at the German Resilience Center in Mainz introduced a synthetic enzyme into their animal model that elevates the levels of the intracellular messenger substance cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) only in the corticotropic cells of the HPA axis. Their elevation is important for the release of hormones in the corticotropic cells of the anterior pituitary. The levels of the resulting so-called transgenetic animal stress hormones can be increased by means of exposure to light. This means the researchers can thus observe the accompanying changes to behavior.

The newly published research results of Professor Soojin Ryu and her team at the German Resilience Center show that the corticotropic cells in the pituitary become directly active on the onset of a stress situation that is perceived as distressing. These then influence both locomotion and avoidance behavior as well as the sensitivity to the stimulus. The researchers interpret this as evidence that the corticotropic cells in the pituitary play a significant role in the rapid adaptation of behavior to local environments perceived as antagonistic.

Mainz is the capital and largest city of Rheinland-Pfalz in Southwestern Germany. It was the capital of the Electorate of Mainz during the time of the Holy Roman Empire. In antiquity, it was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhein and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Empire; it was founded as a Roman military post in the 1st century BC and became the provincial capital of Germania Superior. The city is located on the Rhein at its confluence with the Main river opposite Wiesbaden in the Frankfurt Rhein-Main metro area. The city is famous for the invention of the movable-type printing press - the first books ever printed using movable type were manufactured by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz in the early 1450s.

aces are lgbt because *throws dart at dartboard* The printing press was invented in the Holy Roman Empire by the German Johannes Gutenberg around 1440, based on existing screw presses.

The Holy Roman Empire at the time of Reformation. The Protestant Reformation was a schism from the Roman Catholic Church initiated by German professor of theology, composer, priest & monk Martin Luther in the 1500′s. Although there had been earlier attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church, Martin Luther is widely acknowledged to have started the Reformation with his 1517 work “The 95 Theses”. He began by criticizing the selling of indulgences, insisting that the Pope had no authority over purgatory and that the Catholic doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel. The initial movement within Germany diversified, and other reform impulses arose independently. The spread of German contemporary Gutenberg’s printing press for the first time in history provided the means for the rapid dissemination of religious materials in the vernacular. The largest groups were the Lutherans and Calvinists. Lutheran churches were founded mostly in Germany, the Baltics, and Scandinavia, while the Reformed ones were founded in Switzerland, Hungary, France, the Netherlands, and Scotland. 

The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent. Much work in battling Protestantism was done by the well-organised new order of the Jesuits. In general, Northern Europe, with the exception of most of Ireland, came under the influence of Protestantism aka Lutheran churches. Southern Europe remained Roman Catholic and still is Catholic today. Read more about the Reformation. Religion tag.



5 04 17

In lectures we’ve learned that Johannes Gutenberg and his moveable type printing press created a printing revolution across medieval Europe, so I began researching Steve Jobs, who can be thought of as the creator of the beginnings of a digital revolution which is arguably still happening.

Jobs’ inclusion of a selection of varied, dynamic fonts on Apple’s first computer changed the world of digital communication - now regular people had access to a diverse range of typefaces at their desk. As designers, we know how choice of font can affect how our message is perceived and Jobs’ fonts were a step to democratising design across the general population and were a significant departure from the stale, default OS fonts at the time. 


Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield.

Just My Type is a book of stories about fonts. It examines how Helvetica and Comic Sans took over the world. It explains why we are still influenced by type choices made more than 500 years ago, and why the T in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters. It profiles the great originators of type, from Baskerville to Zapf, as well as people like Neville Brody who threw out the rulebook. The book is about that pivotal moment when fonts left the world of Letraset and were loaded onto computers, and typefaces became something we realized we all have an opinion about. And beyond all this, the book reveals what may be the very best and worst fonts in the world – and what your choice of font says about you.

Today we can imagine no simpler everyday artistic freedom than the pull-down font menu. Here is the spill of history, the echo of Johann Gutenberg with every key tap. Here are names we recognize: Helvetica, Times New Roman, Palatino and Gill Sans. Here are the names from folios and flaking manuscripts: Bembo, Baskerville and Caslon. Here are possibilities for flair: Bodoni, Didot and Book Antiqua. And here are the risks of ridicule: Brush Script, Herculanum, Braggadocio and Comic Sans. Twenty years ago we hardly knew them, but now we all have favourites. Computers have rendered us all gods of type, a privilege we could never have anticipated in the age of the typewriter.

Yet when we choose Calibri over Century, or the designer of an advertisement picks Centaur rather than American Gothic, what lies behind our choice and what impression do we hope to create? When we choose a typeface, what are we really saying? Who makes these fonts and how do they work? And just why do we need so many? What are we to do with Alligators, Accolade, Amigo, Alpha Charlie, Acid Queen, Arbuckle, Art Gallery, Ashley Crawford, Arnold Bocklin, Auriol Vignette Sylvie, Andreena, Amorpheus, Angry, and Anytime Now? Banjoman, Bannikova, Baylac, Binner, Bingo, Blacklight, Blippo, Bebedot Blonde, Beach House or Bubble Bath? (And how lovely does Bubble Bath sound, with its thin floating linked circles ready to pop and dampen the page?) There are more than 100,000 fonts in the world. But why can’t we keep to a half-dozen or so familiar faces? Or perhaps we should just stick to the classic Garamond, named after the type designer Claude Garamond, active in Paris in the first half of the sixteenth century, whose highly legible Roman type blew away the heavy fustiness of his German predecessors, and later, adapted by William Caslon in England, would provide the letters for the American Declaration of Independence.

Typefaces are now 560 years old. So when a Brit called Matthew Carter constructed the now-ubiquitous Verdana on his computer in the 1990s, what could he possibly be doing to an A and a B that had never been done before? And how did a friend of his make the typeface Gotham, which eased Barack Obama into the Presidency? And what exactly makes a font presidential or American, or British, French German, Swiss or Jewish? These are arcane mysteries and it is the job of the book to get to the heart of them. But it begins with a cautionary tale, a story of what happens when a typeface gets out of control.

Just My Type from Pentagram on Vimeo.

Get it here:


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So today we’re going to talk about Sophie Scholl and White Rose.

In short, the White Rose was a society of University of Munich students who got together and realized that this whole Nazi business was pretty fucked up. They agreed that shit was fucked up, although instead of sitting on their tumblrs making angry text posts, they risked their lives to do it.

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SIGNAL BOOST: nazis suck

Back then, there wasn’t much you could do if you thought Nazis sucked, but that didn’t deter these students, because if you tried to do something, steps were taken to, ah, “prevent” you from doing it again.

Meet Sophie & Hans Scholl. They grew up in Hitler Youth and, like many, believed at first that Hitler was the best thing for Germany. However, their parents were not as enthusiastic - their father spent time in prison for expressing to his secretary that the war was a lost cause in 1942.

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Hans, Sophie, and Christoph Probst. Also known as: total badasses

Sophie, Hans, and their friends, and they realized they had to do something that didn’t involve rioting. It had to be quiet, anonymous, and it had to reach many people.

So they made leaflets periodically between 1942 & 1943, basically telling their classmates to a) spread this shit like wildfire, and b) nonviolently protest the Nazi regime - don’t go out and fucking slaughter your neighborhood Gestapo officer. Just kinda…flip him off behind his back. And protest. Protest a lot.

“Sorry officer I just have ONE HELL OF AN ITCH”

Much of the content was stuff ripped straight from the Bible that basically pointed out how God & Jesus would totally not be cool with this shit, and was distributed mostly to southern Germans, whom they believed would respond better to their message.

Isn’t it true that every honest German is ashamed of his government these days? Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes– crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure– reach the light of day?

-excerpt of 1st leaflet content

This was the first openly defiant stances against the Nazis and it made the Gestapo go fucking nuts trying to find these people. They knew that they had access to lots of paper and a printing machine, but that was about it. So while the Gestapo Scooby-Doo’d their way through this mystery, six leaflets in total were printed.

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They would have been caught after the 4th, but without Velma’s glasses the entire operation was at a standstill.

This also caused a huge stir in the student body, as well as in the surrounding areas where the flyers were distributed. Finally though, it all came to an end. The Scholls were arrested in February 1943 when someone observed Sophie throwing some remaining leaflets she had just distributed over a banister at the University of Munich, and the police were called.

Sophie, Hans, and Christoph were arrested, tried, and found guilty of high treason. They were all noted for showing intense courage during the interrogation process, especially Sophie who said during her trial, “You know as well as we do that the war is lost. Why are you so cowardly that you won’t admit it?

The trial was halted briefly so ice could be applied to that burn.

Hans’ last words were “let freedom ring” as he was guillotined. The rest of them were either executed, imprisoned, and/or tortured, as well as their supporters.

Today White Rose lives on. Sophie, Hans, Christoph, and their ragtag team of rebels became a symbol of Nazi opposition. Hans and Sophie were put on stamps, and one of the main writers, Alexander Schmorell was canonized as a New Martyr in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Movies, books, and television series have been written and performed to tell their story, and today, they are listed as #4 in the list of “100 Greatest Germans” (Unsere Besten) - that’s among the ranks of Martin Luther and Karl Marx, and higher up than fucking Otto von Bismarck, Albert Einstein, and Johannes Gutenberg.

Novel form of experience-dependent plasticity in the adult brain revealed

Research by a team of scientists from Cologne, Munich and Mainz has shown an unprecedented degree of connectivity reorganization in newly-generated hippocampal neurons in response to experience, suggesting their direct contribution to the processing of complex information in the adult brain.

The hippocampus is an anatomical area of the brain classically involved in memory formation and modulation of emotional behavior. It is also one of the very few regions in the adult brain where resident neural stem cells generate new neurons life-long, thus providing the hippocampal circuitry with an almost unique renewal mechanism important for information processing and mood regulation. In response to experience and voluntary exercise, the amount of new neurons that are incorporated into the hippocampus increases. Dr. Matteo Bergami from CECAD Cologne (Cluster of Excellence in Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases) has joined efforts with scientists from Ludwig Maximilians University Munich and the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz to investigate whether experience, rather than merely promoting neurogenesis, also modifies the connectivity of new neurons.

The scientists successfully showed that the pattern of connectivity of new neurons, namely the number and types of inputs received by each new neuron, is not prefigured in the adult brain but can be significantly altered in response to complex environmental conditions. In fact, following environmental enrichment (EE) the innervation by both local hippocampal interneurons and long distance projection cortical neurons was substantially increased. However, while the inhibitory inputs were largely transient, cortical innervation remained elevated even after ending the exposure to EE. These findings reveal that exposure to complex environmental stimuli as well as their deprivation regulates the way new neurons become incorporated into the preexisting circuitry and thus, their engagement into hippocampal-dependent tasks.

These findings significantly contribute to deepening our understanding of how the brain responds to experience and how external stimuli are translated into stable changes of neuronal connectivity. The results will not only help to decipher how complex learning processes modify the brain’s plasticity, but may also create an experimental basis for investigating the maladaptive changes in brain connectivity associated with neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders such as epilepsy, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress.

The research group’s results represent a crucial step towards realizing the broader vision of CECAD at the University of Cologne, namely to understand the molecular and cellular basis of aging-associated diseases as a means to developing new effective therapeutic strategies.


Exploring the Creative Limits of Letterpress with @churchoftype

On this day in 1452, Johann Gutenberg printed the very first book using a printing press with movable type. More than 550 years later, Gutenberg’s invention continues to unlock creative expression. To see more unconventional letterpress creations from Kevin Bradley, follow @churchoftype on Instagram.

Kevin Bradley (@churchoftype) has spent the past 21 years pushing letterpress to its creative limits. “It wants to be art,” Kevin says of his chosen medium, which he gravitated towards in school because he saw it as a middle ground between graphic design and fine art. Evolution, he explains, is part of his process. “I’ve tortured the space of 18"x24" in every imaginable way over the years, and moving up in size has been the key to revitalizing the entire experience.”

Kevin recently moved to Santa Monica, California, uprooting himself after nearly two decades in Knoxville, Tennessee. The change of scenery brought with it much needed creative inspiration. “There’s a lot going on here,” he says. “I’m discovering a whole community. I definitely feel as though I’m a new animal here.”

His recent works reshape the familiar forms of typography into pictures. “I approach these more as paintings than prints,” he says. “Each is one of a kind.” By constructing images from type, explains Kevin, “I am able to create layers of information that contribute to an overall narrative.”


Johann Gutenberg: The Power of the Printed Word

You should probably watch this again. Or just bookmark it. Or make fan art about it.


Decent Rap Battles of History

Music and lyrics by myself.

And in case you are wondering, I am the one in the costume.

First code of conduct for the use of virtual reality established

Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany have prepared a list of ethical concerns that might arise with the use of virtual reality (VR) by researchers and the general public. Along with this list, Dr. Michael Madary and Professor Thomas Metzinger have produced concrete recommendations for minimizing the risks. According to Madary and Metzinger in their article in Frontiers in Robotics and AI, additional focused research is urgently needed. They are especially concerned about the possibility of unanticipated consequences for the psychological states and self-images of users who are able to inhabit a virtual environment almost as if it is the real world.

The technological capacity for generating virtual worlds from home computers will soon be widely available to the general public, as special head-mounted displays are brought to market that create the illusion of being immersed in virtual three-dimensional worlds. The opportunities for research, education, and entertainment using VR have been much discussed in the media, but Madary and Metzinger seek to raise awareness about the risks that accompany these opportunities – risks that have received far less attention so far. Both philosophers have participated over the last several years in an EU project on “Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-Embodiment” (VERE) with a focus on illusions of embodiment, in which one has the feeling of owning and controlling a body that is not one’s own, such as an avatar in VR.

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