January 24, 2019

    Deleting cocaine use memory to decrease drug seeking

    Mind and Brain | Jan 23, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Erasing drug memories could help reduce drug addiction
    Deleting cocaine use memory to decrease drug seeking - interesting science news

    Drug addiction is very much a memory condition since as soon as the person is exposed to cues associated with the drug, the brain fires the same neurons associated with drug-seeking behavior.

    In the present experiment, the rats learned to associate some audiovisual cues with cocaine and exhibited behavior similar to craving, ie. pressing the lever for cocaine repeatedly. Then they used electrical recording from the brain tissue and found that brain medial geniculate nucleus which is associated with sounds and amygdala which is important in memory were highly connected.

    Then they erased the cocaine cue memories using a technique called optogenetics which uses light to inhibit certain specific neurons. On doing this the rats significantly reduced the learn-pressing behavior, thus showing that if we disrupt these memories which are linked to these cues, it significantly reduces drug-seeking behavior.

    Read the full story: University of Pittsburgh (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Cell Reports

    Rethinking global warming

    Earth | Jan 22, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    We might have underestimated the cooling effect and this means that global warming could be worse
    Rethinking global warming - interesting science news

    We all know that the man-made emissions like the greenhouse gases is the cause of global warming and the global cooling happens by air pollution through aerosols.

    However, researchers now state that the degree to which the aerosols cause the global cooling has been majorly underestimated and this requires a reinterpretation of the climate change models to more correctly predict the pace of global warming.

    They used a new method including satellite imagery to independently calculate vertical winds and cloud droplet number and hence calculated more accurately the effect of this cooling effect on Earth. So, this could mean that the effects of greenhouse gases is much higher than we previously thought and indicates a much worse situation.

    Read the full story: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Scientific publication: Science

    Seeing the world through a bird’s eye

    Life | Jan 23, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Birds see much more contrast in a green environment such as forests than we do
    Seeing the world through a bird’s eye - life short science news

    While the human eye use the primary colors red, green and blue for color vision, birds use in addition a fourth color, invisible to the human eye : ultraviolet.

    With the aid of a special camera and advanced calculations, biologists have been able to figure out what the world looks like through the eyes of birds. It appears that birds perceive the upper sides of leaves much lighter than we do, and from below the leaves appear very dark.

    This enhances contrast dramatically, so that birds can navigate and forage easily in forests, and do not see the forest as a uniform green wall as we do.

    Read the full story: Lund University
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Your children may inherit the negative effects of your poor diet

    Health | Jan 23, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Negative consequence of a poor diet can be transmitted to your future children
    Your children can inherit the negative effects of your poor diet - health short science news

    While we all know that eating fruit and vegetables keep your hearth healthy, scientists have discovered that diet also influences health of children and even grandchildren.

    It appeared that, in fruit flies, high-fat diet causes epigenetic changes (chemical modifications of DNA) that are transmitted to the next generation. In consequence, this leads to negative heart effects in the offspring. When scientists reversed the epigenetic changes, the heart problems did not occur.

    Thus, poor nutrition may affect health from one generation to the next.

    Read the full story: Sanford Burnham Prebys
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Corals attract symbiotic algae with fluorescent green light

    Life | Jan 23, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    The green fluorescence emitted by corals. Image: NIBB
    Corals attract symbiotic algae with fluorescent green light - life short science news

    Reef-building corals can only live in nutrition-poor waters because they have a symbiotic relationship with dinoflagellates (zooxanthellae, a group of algae).

    It now appears that corals attract these algae by emission of green fluorescent light.

    The attraction of zooxanthellae by corals may help corals to recover from bleaching following periods of high temperatures.

    Read the full story: National Institutes of Natural Sciences
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

    One defense of cancer cells taken down

    Health | Jan 22, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Macrophages are immune cells that can eat cells that are not supposed to be in the body, like intruders or cancer cells. Image: Penn Medicine
    One defense of cancer cells taken down - health short science news

    Scientists have found that macrophages, some of the most important cancer-fighting cells of the immune system need to be primed before they attack and eat cancer cells.

    Priming can be done by CpG to activate a so-called toll-like receptor. This changes the metabolism of macrophages, which now start to use glutamine and glucose as their primary energy sources for combatting the cancer. Macrophages will then eat the cancer cells, thus shrinking the tumor, even in the presence of high levels of CD47. CD47 is expressed by cancer cells to reduce macrophage activity, so that they do not get eaten.

    Thus, cancer cells lose the use of CD47 for their defense against the immune system when facing pre-activated macrophages with altered metabolism.

    Read the full story: University of Pennsylvania
    Scientific publication: Nature Immunology

    Fentanyl test strips could be effective in reducing overdose

    Mind and Brain | Jan 22, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    These strips could prove lifesaving. Photo credit: Stephen Crocker/Brown University
    Fentanyl test strips could be effective in reducing overdose - interesting science news

    Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid and even an extremely small amount of the drug can lead to fatal overdose. It presents a major health hazard because it is used to lace heroin and cocaine and drug users have difficulty in detecting this.

    Researchers provided rapid-acting fentanyl strips to young adults who were at risk of overdoing and found that these people not only used these strips but also reported that it assisted in changing their behaviour thereby decreasing the risk of fatal overdose.

    Participants used these fentanyl strips to test for suspicious drug supplies and also gave it to other people who they thought might be at a risk of overdose. With just $1 Each these strips are being distributed by harm reduction organization throughout USA.

    Read the full story: Brown University
    Scientific publication: Harm Reduction journal

    Privacy at risk even if you don’t have a social media account

    Technology | Jan 22, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    You are on Facebook, even if you aren't?
    Privacy at risk even if you don’t have a social media account - interesting science news

    A new study has shown that privacy on our favourite social media is like second-hand smoke, meaning that it is dependent on people surrounding us.

    The study found that even if a person leaves social media platform or never had an account, the online posts and accounts of their friends can still provide predictive accuracy to the tune of 95%. All this can happen even without having a person’s data.

    We all have that friend, lets say Andrew who hates social media and doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account. Andrew needs to know that a company or a government theoretically can glean information about him such as favourite political party, religious commitments and liked products from his friends. Apparently, there is nowhere to hide.

    Read the full story: University of Vermont
    Scientific publication: Nature Human Behavior

    Main theory about what goes wrong in the autistic brain is not correct

    Mind and Brain | Jan 21, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Imbalance of inhibition and excitation in the autistic brain is not the cause of, but an adaptation to the disease
    Main theory about what goes wrong in the autistic brain is not correct - brain short science news

    Scientists think that brain cells of autistic patients receive too little inhibition, or much excitation, leading to hyperactivity in the brain. This is supposed to create “noise”, leading to social and attention deficits.

    However, new research in four mouse models of autism has shown that, while neurons do receive less inhibition, the altered balance between inhibition and excitation does not lead to increased activity of the cells. Rather, it appears that this reflects a compensatory mechanism related to the disease, i.e. to stabilize neuronal activity.

    This is fundamentally different from the current theory, and, considering that much research is devoted to the development of treatments to increase inhibition, an important new insight for more effective treatment of autism.

    Read the full story: University of California - Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Neuron

    New snake species discovered ….. in the stomach of another snake

    Life | Jan 21, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    A new snake species was found in the stomach of a coral snake (shown) in 1976, and has only now been described
    New snake species discovered ….. in the stomach of another snake - life short science news

    A snake that had been found in the stomach of a Central American coral snake Southern Mexico in 1976 turns out to be a new species. Researchers have baptized it Cenaspis aenigma (something like « mysterious dinner snake).

    It has quite a few characteristics that are unknown to other snakes, prompting the researchers to place it in a new genus.

    Based on some physical features, it seems likely that Cenaspis aenigma feeds on insects and spiders and lives in burrows. This might explain why, surprisingly, this newly-descibed snake has never been observed in the wild.

    Read the full story: University of Texas – Arlington
    Scientific publication: Journal of Herpetology

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