Neuroscience


New tools offer clues to how the human brain takes shape

Science

Our brains are bigger, relative to body size, than other animals', but it's not just size that matters. Elephants and whales have bigger brains, so comparing anatomy or even genomes of humans and other animals reveals little about the genetic and developmental changes that sent our brains down such a different path. Geneticists have identified a few key differences in the genes of humans and apes. But specifically how human variants of such genes shape our brain in development--and how they drove its evolution--have remained largely mysterious. Now, researchers are deploying new tools to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the unique features of our brain.


Brain chips will be as popular as smartphones in 15 years

Daily Mail

Implanting a microchip into your brain to unlock its full potential may sound like the plot from the latest science fiction blockbuster. But the futuristic technology could become a reality within 15 years, according to Bryan Johnson, an expert working on such a device. The chips will allow people to buy and delete memories, and will soon be as popular as smartphones, Mr Johnson claims. Implanting a microchip into your brain to unlock its full potential may sound like the plot from the latest science fiction blockbuster. Kernel is currently working on prototypes of a brain implant device for medical use in humans.


Ray Kurzweil: The Coming Singularity

@machinelearnbot

By 2045, we'll have expanded the intelligence of our human machine civilization a billion fold. That will result in a technological singularity, a point beyond which it's hard to imagine. Transcript: Well, by 2020 we'll have computers that are powerful enough to simulate the human brain, but we won't be finish yet with reverse engineering the human brain and understanding its methods. One of my main themes, and I've developed this thesis over 30 years, is that information technology grows exponentially; the power of computers are understanding the human brain, specializes solution of brain scanning, the number of bits we move in the internet. Many different measures of information technology double every year, or every 11 months, 13 months; depending on what you're measuring.


Scientists implant human brain tissue in rats

USATODAY

Scientists have implanted human-like brain tissue into rats, and no, we're not living inside an episode of pinky and the brain. A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Scientists have implanted human-like brain tissue into rats, and no, we're not living inside an episode of pinky and the brain.


Outcry as scientists implant tiny human brains inside rats

Daily Mail

Tiny human brains connected to the minds of rats have sparked a major ethical debate among researchers. Two papers being presented at a renowned US neuroscience conference this week claim to have hooked human brain tissue to the minds of rats and mice. Ethicists have questioned whether the move could one day give the animals a consciousness, meaning they will be entitled to'respect' in future. It could even mean injected rodents cross the species barrier with humans to become an intelligent hybrid organism. Tiny brains connected to the minds of rats have sparked a major ethical debate.


Spindle asymmetry drives non-Mendelian chromosome segregation

Science

Genetic elements compete for transmission through meiosis, when haploid gametes are created from a diploid parent. Selfish elements can enhance their transmission through a process known as meiotic drive. In female meiosis, selfish elements drive by preferentially attaching to the egg side of the spindle. This implies some asymmetry between the two sides of the spindle, but the molecular mechanisms underlying spindle asymmetry are unknown. Here we found that CDC42 signaling from the cell cortex regulated microtubule tyrosination to induce spindle asymmetry and that non-Mendelian segregation depended on this asymmetry.


Lattice system of functionally distinct cell types in the neocortex

Science

The fundamental organization of excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the neocortex is still poorly understood. Subcerebral projection neurons, a major excitatory cell type in neocortical layer 5, form small cell clusters called microcolumns. Maruoka et al. examined large regions of mouse brain layer 5 and observed that thousands of these microcolumns make up a hexagonal lattice with a regular gridlike spacing. Microcolumns received common presynaptic inputs and showed synchronized activity in many cortical areas. These microcolumns developed from nonsister neurons coupled by cell type–specific gap junctions, suggesting that their development is lineage-independent but guided by local electrical transmission.


Scientists have designed virtual human brain cells

FOX News

For centuries, scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying the human brain have attempted to unlock its mysteries. The role the brain plays in human personality -- as well as the myriad of disorders and conditions that come along with it -- is often difficult to study because studying the organ while it's still functioning in a human body is complicated. Now, researchers at The Allen Institute for Brain Science have introduced a new tool that could make such study a whole lot easier: functioning virtual brain cells. The fully 3D computer models of living human brain tissue are based on actual brain samples that were left over after surgery, and present what could be the most powerful testbed for studying the human brain ever created. The samples used to construct the virtual models was healthy tissue that was removed during brain operations, and represents parts of the brain that are typically associated with thoughts and consciousness, as well as memory.


What constitutes the prefrontal cortex?

Science

During evolution, the prefrontal region grew in size relative to the rest of the cortex. It reached its largest extent in the human brain, where it constitutes 30% of the total cortical area. This growth was accompanied by phylogenetic differentiation of the cortical areas. It has been argued that the human brain holds prefrontal regions that are both qualitatively and functionally unique. An important goal is to reveal how the prefrontal cortex enables complex behavior.


These Neurons are Alive and Firing. And You Can Watch Them In 3-D

WIRED

For patients with epilepsy, or cancerous brain lesions, sometimes the only way to forward is down. Down past the scalp and into the skull, down through healthy grey matter to get at a tumor or the overactive network causing seizures. At the end of the surgery, all that extra white and grey matter gets tossed in the trash or an incinerator. For the last few years, doctors at a number of hospitals in the Emerald City have been saving those little bits and blobs of brain, sticking them on ice, and rushing them off in a white van across town to the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Scientists there have been keeping the tissue on life support long enough to tease out how individual neurons look, act, and communicate.