Research

Neuroscientists go to Washington — as advocates for science

This last March, I had the opportunity to join fellow neuroscientists from around the country in an effort to increase political awareness of scientific research during the Society for Neuroscience Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C. The group was made up of about 45 Society for Neuroscience members, including graduate students, post-doctoral fellows (like myself), faculty members, SfN staff and senior SfN leaders. Combined, we met with more than 75 congressional offices over the course … Read More

April 7 Brain Awareness lecture: the adolescent brain

Adolescence is a time of dramatic behavioral, cognitive, social, and biological change. In recent years, techniques that scientists use to measure and image the brain have greatly enhanced our understanding of these changes. I’ll be talking about some of these changes – and everything that scientists are learning about the differences in the teenage brain – during my Brain Awareness Season lecture this Monday evening, April 7. The lecture, sponsored by the OHSU Brain Institute, … Read More

One more shot of espresso, for memory’s sake

How much do Portlanders love their coffee? A lot. According to a 2011 poll by CNBC, Portland is the third most caffeinated city in the U.S., with almost 900 coffee shops and 30 local coffee roasters. And does this love of coffee have any effect on brain health? A new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience suggests that caffeine might actually be a good thing for how our brain stores and processes long-term memories. … Read More

The road to a healthy heart is the road to a healthy brain

What if we told you that you could live your life in simple ways that give you a very, very good chance of having a healthy heart and a sharp brain well into old age? No special drugs, no special surgeries, no amazing scientific discoveries and no wonder cures. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? And it’s simple. Science is beginning to understand that the route to a healthy brain and healthy heart might be pretty … Read More

A toast to your health

There’s possibly no better time to highlight this research story than on New Year’s eve: a drink or two a day — a glass of wine, a glass of beer — might also keep the doctor away. That’s what colleagues and I found in a study published this month in the journal Vaccine. We studied the drinking behaviors of rhesus macaque monkeys, who were given 22-hour-a-day access to a mixture of alcohol and water — … Read More

How our brains wash away the gunk during sleep

You wake on Saturday morning, drag your body out of bed and survey your home. You had entertained houseguests the night before, and it shows. Friends and family had filled your home, loud voices and much conversation echoed within your walls and everyone went home much later than you had planned. And now it is time to pay the piper. A full Saturday’s worth of dishwashing, floor scrubbing and shelf wiping stares you back in … Read More

Scientists ‘create’ a tiny brain

For the first time, scientists have grown a brain in a dish. In a study published in the journal Nature last month, Austrian researchers used human induced pluripotent stem cells or embryonic stem cells and a combination of specialized growth conditions to produce “cerebral organoids.” Within these organoids, the authors can define many, but not all, of the discrete brain regions found in the human brain. The organization of these regions in relation to one … Read More

From laboratory to farm: a scientist’s visit to the local herb farm

As a basic scientist, most of my neuroscience training and research has focused on the underlying biological mechanisms of disease. During the past year, I have started working with a natural compound in my research on Parkinson’s disease. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric spice, can act as an anti-oxidant and anti-aggregation agent, and may have a positive effect on the Lewy bodies found in Parkinson’s patients. At first, I was a bit skeptical about … Read More

‘Neuroprotection’: an elusive goal in fighting brain diseases

About 15 years ago, I wrote an article about treating Alzheimer’s disease that divided treatments into two categories: “symptomatic” and “neuroprotectant.” There were real options in the former category. But the “neuroprotectant” idea was more theoretical — more of a “coming attractions” approach — citing the studies that were underway to identify treatments that would actually save brain cells, protecting those neurons from further harm, and actually slowing or arresting the disease process. Sadly, despite … Read More

Brain News Roundup: ‘Seeing’ emotions, concussions and ‘multi-tasking’

Scientists can now see “sad” and “happy” in our brains. More news on the impact of concussions, including long-term impacts. And a roundup of more brain news, including fatherhood and our (mistaken) belief about how well we multi-task. • Scientists have discovered a way to “see” emotions with brain imaging technology, according to a recent study. Beyond being just plain fascinating, scientists hope the findings could bring a new way to analyze emotions beyond people’s … Read More

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