Decoding the brain’s circuit diagrams

New method facilitates mapping neural connections
October 19, 2012


Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, the University of Göttingen and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Göttingen has now developed a method for decoding neural circuit diagrams.

Using measurements of total neuronal activity, they can determine the probability that two neurons are connected with each other.

The human brain consists of around 80 billion neurons that exchange signals with… read more

Probing the brain’s chemistry

October 19, 2012

Glucose molecule and electrode

NC State University chemist Leslie Sombers and her graduate student Leyda Lugo-Morales have developed a method for real-time measurement of chemical fluctuations in the brain.

They use voltammetry, a method of electrochemical scanning where voltage is applied to, and current is collected from, a carbon fiber microelectrode that is about 10 times smaller than a human hair.  The resulting data is in the… read more

Could PTSD be cured by sleep-based therapies?

October 19, 2012


Traumatic memories can be manipulated in sleeping mice to reduce their fearful responses during waking hours.  The finding, announced by  Stanford University researchers at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, suggests that sleep-based therapies could provide new options for treating conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Nature News Blog reports.

Currently, one of the most common treatments for PTSD requires the… read more

Hacking your own education

October 20, 2012


Dale J. Stephens‘ Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

In Hacking Your Education, Stephens speaks to a new culture of “hackademics” who think college diplomas are antiquated.

Hackademics abandon society’s linear path to success and bend institutions to fit their own reality.… read more

3D printing factory opens in New York City

October 20, 2012

(Credit: Shapeways)

Shapeways, a Netherlands-based online 3D printing company, has opened a “factory of the future” in Queens, New York that plans to house 50 high-resolution industrial 3D printers and print custom-designed products a year, Popular Science reports.

The company will allow customers to upload custom 3D designs, and then prints them using materials including acrylic, nylon, glass, gypsum, ceramic, and sandstone, and precious metals such as silver, and ships the… read more

NASA pursues atom optics to detect gravitational waves

October 21, 2012

Goddard-designed breadboard laser system

A pioneering technology capable of atomic-level precision is now being developed to detect what so far has remained imperceptible: gravitational waves or ripples in space-time caused by cosmic cataclysmic events, including even the Big Bang itself.

A team of researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Stanford University, and AOSense, Inc. recently won funding under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program to advance atom-optics technologies.… read more

Cell mechanism findings could one day be used to engineer organs

October 21, 2012


Biologists have teamed up with mechanical engineers from the the University of Texas at Dallas to conduct cell research that provides information that may one day be used to engineer organs.

The research, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (open access), sheds light on the mechanics of cell, tissue, and organ formation. The research revealed basic mechanisms about… read more

Minnesota bans free online education, caves to Internet pressure

October 21, 2012

Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education was forced by public pressure Friday to cancel its bizarre bureaucratic decision to prohibit free online college courses offered through Coursera and other websites, Slate reported Friday.

Twitter improves student learning

October 21, 2012


Twitter has become a new literary format that is improving student learning, according to Christine Greenhow, assistant professor of education at Michigan State University, who found that college students who tweet as part of their instruction are more engaged with the course content and with the teacher and other students, and also have higher grades.

Twitter use among U.S. teens has doubled in less… read more

Breakthrough may lead to large-scale quantum computing

October 21, 2012

Nanowire-double quantum dot (DQD) device stores spin qubits (credit:

In a key step toward creating a working quantum computer, Princeton University researchers have developed a method that may allow for quick, reliable transfer of quantum information throughout a computing device.

The finding, by a team led by Princeton physicist Jason Petta, could eventually allow engineers to build quantum computers consisting of millions of quantum bits, or qubits. So far, quantum researchers have only been able to… read more

Self-assembled nanoparticles release chemotherapy drug and heat to treat cancer

October 21, 2012

gold nanorods

In new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), researchers have invented self-assembled, multifunctional, near-infrared-light-responsive nanoparticles to treat cancer.

The nanoparticles can deliver a chemotherapy drug specifically targeted to cancer cells and selectively release the drug in response to an external beam of light. They can also create heat for synergistic thermo-chemo-mediated anti-tumor effects.

Excitement around the potential for targeted nanoparticles (NPs) that can be controlled… read more

Creating complex 3D metallic structures at nanoscale

October 21, 2012

Micro-particles of lactose are trapped in self-organized structures made from the thin film metal. The scale bar represents 4 micrometers. (Credit: Khattiya Chalapat, et al./Aalto University)

Scientists from Aalto University in Finland and the University of Washington have demonstrated how to create complex 3D structures at nanoscale by combining ion processing and nanolithography.

The fabrication of many objects, machines, and devices rely on the controlled deformation of metals by industrial processes such as bending, shearing, and stamping. Is this technology transferrable to nanoscale? Can we build similarly complex devices and machines with… read more

Next-generation-sequencing report published

Detailed overview of the landscape of next-generation sequencing technology and its clinical relevance and impact on improving patient care
October 21, 2012


The Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) has published the report of the Whole Genome Analysis (WGA) Working Group of the AMP Clinical Practice Committee in the November 2012 issue of The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics (JMD).

Titled Opportunities and Challenges Associated with Clinical Diagnostic Genome Sequencing, the open-access report provides an overview of the landscape of next generation sequencing (NGS) technology, its clinical relevance, and its… read more

New hope for the blind from neuroscientists?

Electrical stimulation of the visual cortex generates flashes of light
October 22, 2012


Scientists in the Texas Medical Center believe that there may be a way to use mental images to help some of the estimated 39 million people worldwide who are blind.

Scientists in the laboratories of Michael Beauchamp, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School, and Daniel Yoshor, M.D., an associate… read more

Viruses act like ‘self-packing suitcases’

October 22, 2012


Researchers at the University of Leeds have identified a crucial stage in the life cycle of simple viruses like polio and the common cold that could open a new front in the war on viral disease.

The team is the first to observe at a single-molecule level how the genetic material (genome) that forms the core of a single-strand RNA virus particle packs itself into… read more

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