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New Spin On Origins of Evolvability: Competition to Survive Not Necessary?

Scientists have long observed that species seem to have become increasingly capable of evolving in response to changes in the environment. But computer science researchers now say that the popular explanation of competition to survive in nature may not actually be necessary for evolvability to increase.   In a paper published this week inPLOS ONE, the researchers report that evolvability
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Stem Cell Transplant Restores Memory, Learning in Mice

 For the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into nerve cells that helped mice regain the ability to learn and remember.A study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the first to show that human stem cells can successfully implant themselves in the brain and then heal neurological deficits, says senior author Su-Chun Zhang, a professor of neuroscience and neurology.
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Brain Development Is Guided by Junk DNA That Isn't Really Junk

 Specific DNA once dismissed as junk plays an important role in brain development and might be involved in several devastating neurological diseases, UC San Francisco scientists have found.Their discovery in mice is likely to further fuel a recent scramble by researchers to identify roles for long-neglected bits of DNA within the genomes of mice and humans alike. While researchers have been
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Deep Homology of Arthropod Central Complex and Vertebrate Basal Ganglia

Similarities of brain structure, function, and behavior are usually ascribed to convergent evolution. In their review, Strausfeld and Hirth (p. 157) identify multiple commonalities shared by vertebrate basal ganglia and a system of forebrain centers in arthropods called the central complex. The authors conclude that circuits essential to behavioral choice originated very early across phyla.Nicholas
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See-through brains clarify connections

A chemical treatment that turns whole organs transparent offers a big boost to the field of ‘connectomics’ — the push to map the brain’s fiendishly complicated wiring. Scientists could use the technique to view large networks of neurons with unprecedented ease and accuracy. The technology also opens up new research avenues for old brains that were saved from patients and healthy donors.Helen
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A 'Light Switch' in Brain Illuminates Neural Networks

 There are cells in your brain that recognize very specific places, and have that as one of their main jobs. These cells, called place cells, are found in an area behind your temple called the hippocampus. While these cells must be sent information from nearby cells to do their job, so far no one has been able to determine exactly what kind of nerve cells, or neurons, work with place cells to
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Systematic Analysis of Neural Projections Reveals Clonal Composition of the Drosophila Brain

During development neurons are generated by sequential divisions of neural stem cells, or neuroblasts. In the insect brain progeny of certain stem cells form lineage-specific sets of projections that arborize in distinct brain regions, called clonal units. Though this raises the possibility that the entire neural network in the brain might be organized in a clone-dependent fashion, only a small portion
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Forgetting in C. elegans Is Accelerated by Neuronal Communication via the TIR-1/JNK-1 Pathway

The control of memory retention is important for proper responses to constantly changing environments, but the regulatory mechanisms underlying forgetting have not been fully elucidated. Our genetic analyses in C. elegans revealed that mutants of the TIR-1/JNK-1 pathway exhibited prolonged retention of olfactory adaptation and salt chemotaxis learning. In olfactory adaptation, conditioning induces
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Epigenetic mechanisms in the development and maintenance of dopaminergic neurons

Mesodiencephalic dopaminergic (mdDA) neurons are located in the ventral mesodiencephalon and are involved in psychiatric disorders and severely affected in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. mdDA neuronal development has received much attention in the last 15 years and many transcription factors involved in mdDA specification have been discovered. More recently however, the impact
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Developmental processes in face perception

Understanding the developmental origins of face recognition has been the goal of many studies of various approaches. Contributions of experience-expectant mechanisms (early component), like perceptual narrowing, and lifetime experience (late component) to face processing remain elusive. By investigating captive chimpanzees of varying age, a rare case of a species with lifelong exposure to non-conspecific
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