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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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DNA and Quantum Dots: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

A team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has shown that by bringing gold nanoparticles close to the dots and using a DNA template to control the distances, the intensity of a quantum dot's fluorescence can be predictably increased or decreased. This breakthrough opens a potential path to using quantum dots as a component in better photodetectors, chemical sensors
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Scientists Discover How Epigenetic Information Could Be Inherited: Mechanism of Epigenetic Reprogramming Revealed

New research reveals a potential way for how parents' experiences could be passed to their offspring's genes. The research was published January, 25 in the journal Science.Science Daily, Jan 25, 2013Mouse primordial germ cells (PGCs) undergo sequential epigenetic changes and genome-wide DNA demethylation to reset the epigenome for totipotency. Here, the authors demonstrate that erasure of CpG
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Action Plan: Making Brain-Controlled Prosthetics That Can Open a Clothespin

Brain-controlled interfaces have advanced dramatically during the past decade. But more work needs to be done before this technology begins to approximate the natural movements of a fully functioning arm or hand. An attempt to replicate the full range of movement—and the cognitive chain of events from thought to action—has now begun as a research collaboration among the California Institute of
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Billion-euro brain simulation and graphene projects win European funds

The European Commission has selected the two research proposals it will fund to the tune of half-a-billion euros each after a two-year, high-profile contest. The Human Brain Project, led by neuroscientist Henry Markram at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, plans to simulate everything known about the human brain in a supercomputer — a breathtaking ambition that has been
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Synthetic double-helix faithfully stores Shakespeare's sonnets

A team of scientists has produced a truly concise anthology of verse by encoding all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets in DNA. The researchers say that their technique could easily be scaled up to store all of the data in the world. Along with the sonnets, the team encoded a 26-second audio clip from Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream" speech, a copy of James Watson and Francis Crick’s
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Grid cells require excitatory drive from the hippocampus

To determine how hippocampal backprojections influence spatially periodic firing in grid cells, the author recorded neural activity in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) of rats after temporary inactivation of the hippocampus. They report two major changes in entorhinal grid cells. First, hippocampal inactivation gradually and selectively extinguished the grid pattern. Second, the same grid cells that
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One Form of Neuron Turned Into Another in Brain

 A new finding by Harvard stem cell biologists turns one of the basics of neurobiology on its head -- demonstrating that it is possible to turn one type of already differentiated neuron into another within the brain. The discovery by Paola Arlotta and Caroline Rouaux "tells you that maybe the brain is not as immutable as we always thought, because at least during an early window of time one can
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Recurrent inhibitory circuitry as a mechanism for grid formation

Grid cells in layer II of the medial entorhinal cortex form a principal component of the mammalian neural representation of space. The firing pattern of a single grid cell has been hypothesized to be generated through attractor dynamics in a network with a specific local connectivity including both excitatory and inhibitory connections. However, experimental evidence supporting the presence of such
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Mars May Have Supported Life: Martian Underground Could Contain Clues to Life's Origins

Minerals found in the subsurface of Mars, a zone of more than three miles below ground, make for the strongest evidence yet that the red planet may have supported life, according to research "Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere," published inNature Geoscience on January 20, 2013.Science Daily, Jan 20, 2013Joseph R. Michalski, et al.Wright.Groundwater activity on
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Nearby Universe's 'Cosmic Fog' Measured

HESS collaboration has carried out the first measurement of the intensity of the diffuse extragalactic background light in the nearby Universe, a fog of photons that has filled the Universe ever since its formation. Using some of the brightest gamma-ray sources in the southern hemisphere, the study was carried out using measurements performed by the HESS telescope array, located in Namibia and involving
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The Cell That Isn't: New Technique Captures Division of Membrane-Less Cells

A new technique allows scientists to study cell division without a cell membrane. There are several advantages: it can be physically constrained and manipulated; one can access nuclei which is normally buried deep in an opaque embryo; the method ican be combined with a wide-range of fruit fly genetics techniques. The method has revealed that, surprisingly, confined space not enough to restrict spindle
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The evolutionary causes and consequences of sex-biased gene expression

Females and males often differ extensively in their physical traits. This sexual dimorphism is largely caused by differences in gene expression. Recent advances in genomics, such as RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), have revealed the nature and extent of sex-biased gene expression in diverse species. Here the authors highlight new findings regarding the causes of sex-biased expression, including sexual antagonism
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RNA interference in the nucleus: roles for small RNAs in transcription, epigenetics and beyond

A growing number of functions are emerging for RNA interference (RNAi) in the nucleus, in addition to well-characterized roles in post-transcriptional gene silencing in the cytoplasm. Epigenetic modifications directed by small RNAs have been shown to cause transcriptional repression in plants, fungi and animals. Additionally, increasing evidence indicates that RNAi regulates transcription through interaction
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Y-chromosome evolution: emerging insights into processes of Y-chromosome degeneration

The human Y chromosome is intriguing not only because it harbours the master-switch gene that determines gender but also because of its unusual evolutionary history. The Y chromosome evolved from an autosome, and its evolution has been characterized by massive gene decay. Recent whole-genome and transcriptome analyses of Y chromosomes in humans and other primates, in Drosophila species and in plants
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Human brain evolution: transcripts, metabolites and their regulators

What evolutionary events led to the emergence of human cognition? Although the genetic differences separating modern humans from both non-human primates (for example, chimpanzees) and archaic hominins (Neanderthals and Denisovans) are known, linking human-specific mutations to the cognitive phenotype remains a challenge.  The new strategy is to focus on human-specific changes at the level of intermediate
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Discrete genetic modules are responsible for complex burrow evolution in Peromyscus mice

The genetics of behavioural differences between closely related species are less well understood than the genetics of morphological differences. Many animals build elaborate structures — such as hives, nests and burrows — that 'evolve' as natural selection acts on the behaviour of their builders. This study uses an example of this phenomenon to tackle the question of whether complex behaviours
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Why Wolves Are Forever Wild, but Dogs Can Be Tamed

Dogs and wolves are genetically so similar, it's been difficult for biologists to understand why wolves remain fiercely wild, while dogs can gladly become "man's best friend." Now, doctoral research by evolutionary biologist Kathryn Lord at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests the different behaviors are related to the animals' earliest sensory experiences and the critical period of socialization.
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Light Switch Inside Brain: Laser Controls Individual Nerve Cells in Mouse

Activating and deactivating individual nerve cells in the brain is something many neuroscientists wish they could do, as it would help them to better understand how the brain works.  Scientists in Freiburg and Basel, Switzerland, have developed an implant that is able to genetically modify specific nerve cells, control them with light stimuli, and measure their electrical activity all at the same
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Memory on time

Considerable recent work has shown that the hippocampus is critical for remembering the order of events in distinct experiences, a defining feature of episodic memory. Correspondingly, hippocampal neuronal activity can ‘replay’ sequential events in memories and hippocampal neuronal ensembles represent a gradually changing temporal context signal. Most strikingly, single hippocampal neurons – called
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New Implant Replaces Impaired Middle Ear

Functionally deaf patients can gain normal hearing with a new implant that replaces the middle ear. The unique invention from the Chalmers University of Technology has been approved for a clinical study. The first operation was performed on a patient in December 2012.Jan. 14, 2013 — Science Daily
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Lag normalization in an electrically coupled neural network

Moving objects can cover large distances while they are processed by the eye, usually resulting in a spatially lagged retinal response. The authors identified a network of electrically coupled motion–coding neurons in mouse retina that act collectively to register the leading edges of moving objects at a nearly constant spatial location, regardless of their velocity. These results reveal a previously
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Layer-specific excitatory circuits differentially control recurrent network dynamics in the neocortex

In the absence of external stimuli, the mammalian neocortex shows intrinsic network oscillations. These dynamics are characterized by translaminar assemblies of neurons whose activity synchronizes rhythmically in space and time. How different cortical layers influence the formation of these spontaneous cellular assemblies is poorly understood. The author found that excitatory neurons in supragranular
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Biggest Structure in Universe: Large Quasar Group Is 4 Billion Light Years Across

An international team of astronomers, led by academics from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), has found the largest known structure in the universe. The large quasar group (LQG) is so large that it would take a vehicle travelling at the speed of light some 4 billion years to cross it.Science Daily, Jan. 11, 2013 Roger G. Clowes, et al.A structure in the early Universe at z ∼
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Multiple Fitness Peaks on the Adaptive Landscape Drive Adaptive Radiation in the Wild

Increased competition is shown to drive multiple peaks in fitness during the adaptive radiation of a species.   The relationship between phenotype and fitness can be visualized as a rugged landscape. Multiple fitness peaks on this landscape are predicted to drive early bursts of niche diversification during adaptive radiation. The authors measured the adaptive landscape in a nascent adaptive
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Analysis of 6,515 exomes reveals the recent origin of most human protein-coding variants

Understanding the extent, distribution and age of human protein-coding genetic variants across diverse populations allows fascinating insights into human population dynamics and the resultant evolutionary forces. Cataloguing and dating such variation will also allow us to understand the origin of the seemingly endless list of potential disease variants and to prioritize among them for further investigation.
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Regenerate Sensory Hair Cells, Restore Hearing to Noise-Damaged Ears

Hearing loss is a significant public health problem affecting almost 50 million people in the United States alone. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form and is caused by the loss of sensory hair cells in the cochlea. Hair cell loss results from a variety of factors including noise exposure, aging, toxins, infections, and certain antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs. Although hearing aids
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Microglia: New Roles for the Synaptic Stripper

Any pathologic event in the brain leads to the activation of microglia, the immunocompetent cells of the central nervous system. In recent decades diverse molecular pathways have been identified by which microglial activation is controlled and by which the activated microglia affects neurons. In the normal brain microglia were considered “resting,” but it has recently become evident that they constantly
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Feedback Inhibition Enables Theta-Nested Gamma Oscillations and Grid Firing Fields

Cortical circuits are thought to multiplex firing rate codes with temporal codes that rely on oscillatory network activity, but the circuit mechanisms that combine these coding schemes are unclear. The authors establish with optogenetic activation of layer II of the medial entorhinal cortex that theta frequency drive to this circuit is sufficient to generate nested gamma frequency oscillations in synaptic
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Shaping Our Minds: Stem and Progenitor Cell Diversity in the Mammalian Neocortex

The neural circuits of the mammalian neocortex are crucial for perception, complex thought, cognition, and consciousness. This circuitry is assembled from many different neuronal subtypes with divergent properties and functions. Here, we review recent studies that have begun to clarify the mechanisms of cell-type specification in the neocortex, focusing on the lineage relationships between neocortical
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Ion Channels | TRP Channels in Drosophila Auditory Transduction

In this study, Lehnert et al. record spikes and subthreshold activity from a genetically defined population ofDrosophila auditory receptor neurons. These recordings reveal that several TRP family members play distinct roles in converting movement to transduction currents.Lehnert et al.Neuron, Volume 77, Issue 1, 115-128, 9 January 201310.1016/j.neuron.2012.11.030
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Eliminating Useless Information Important to Learning, Making New Memories

As we age, it just may be the ability to filter and eliminate old information -- rather than take in the new stuff -- that makes it harder to learn, scientists report.  "When you are young, your brain is able to strengthen certain connections and weaken certain connections to make new memories," said Dr. Joe Z. Tsien, neuroscientist at Georgia Regents University.  It's that critical weakening
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'Junk DNA' Made Visible Before the Final Cut

Research findings from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine are shining a light on an important regulatory role performed by the so-called dark matter, or "junk DNA," within each of our genes. The new study reveals snippets of information contained in dark matter that can alter the way a gene is assembled. "These small sequences of genetic information tell the gene how to splice, either
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Cortico-cortical projections in mouse visual cortex are functionally target specific

Neurons in primary sensory cortex have diverse response properties, whereas higher cortical areas are specialized. Specific connectivity may be important for areal specialization, particularly in the mouse, where neighboring neurons are functionally diverse. To examine whether higher visual areas receive functionally specific input from primary visual cortex (V1), the author used two-photon calcium
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In vivo reprogramming of circuit connectivity in postmitotic neocortical neurons

The molecular mechanisms that control how progenitors generate distinct subtypes of neurons, and how undifferentiated neurons acquire their specific identity during corticogenesis, are increasingly understood. However, whether postmitotic neurons can change their identity at late stages of differentiation remains unknown. To study this question, the authors developed an electrochemical in vivo gene
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Dual origins of the mammalian accessory olfactory bulb revealed by an evolutionarily conserved migratory stream

The accessory olfactory bulb (AOB) is a critical olfactory structure that has been implicated in mediating social behavior. It receives input from the vomeronasal organ and projects to targets in the amygdaloid complex. Its anterior and posterior components (aAOB and pAOB) display molecular, connectional and functional segregation in processing reproductive and defensive and aggressive behaviors, respectively.
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New Information on Autism and Genetics

Research out of the George Washington University reveals another piece of the puzzle in a genetic developmental disorder that causes behavioral diseases such as autism. "It tell us that in very early development, those with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome do not make enough cells in one case, and do not put the other cells in the right place. This occurs not because of some degenerative change, but because
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The Immune System's Compact Genomic Counterpart

Much of the human genome derives from self-serving DNA strands known as transposons. These genetic gypsies often jump to new chromosome locations, sometimes disabling genes and even triggering cancer. For that reason, a specialized group of RNA molecules known as piRNAs are the superheroes of animal genomes. piRNAs team up with certain proteins to shackle transposons in animal germline cells, creating
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Cancer-Specific Killer T Cells Created from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC)

Researchers from the RIKEN Research Centre for Allergy and Immunology in Japan report today that they have succeeded for the first time in creating cancer-specific immune system cells called killer T lymphocytes from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). To create these killer cells, the team first had to reprogram T lymphocytes specialized in killing a certain type of cancer, into iPS cells.
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Researchers Identify Water Rich Meteorite Linked To Mars Crust

NASA-funded researchers analyzing a small meteorite that may be the first discovered from the Martian surface or crust have found it contains 10 times more water than other Martian meteorites from unknown origins.This new class of meteorite was found in 2011 in the Sahara Desert. Designated Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, and nicknamed "Black Beauty," it weighs approximately 11 ounces (320 grams). After
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Your Brain On Big Bird: Sesame Street Helps to Reveal Patterns of Neural Development

Using brain scans of children and adults watching Sesame Street, cognitive scientists are learning how children's brains change as they develop intellectual abilities like reading and math,Scientists are just beginning to use brain imaging to understand how humans process thought during real-life experiences. For example, researchers have compared scans of adults watching an entertaining movie to see
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2012: Signaling Breakthroughs of the Year

With input from the members of the Board of Reviewing Editors and editorial staff, Science Signaling puts the spotlight on the hottest signaling research of 2012. The connection between signaling and metabolism continues to be an important area. Signaling breakthroughs in cancer, immunology, developmental biology, neuroscience, and microbiology all made the list. Structural and molecular insights into
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The NaV1.7 sodium channel: from molecule to man

The voltage-gated sodium channel NaV1.7 is preferentially expressed in peripheral somatic and visceral sensory neurons, olfactory sensory neurons and sympathetic ganglion neurons. NaV1.7 accumulates at nerve fibre endings and amplifies small subthreshold depolarizations, poising it to act as a threshold channel that regulates excitability. Genetic and functional studies have added to the evidence that
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