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Archive for the ‘Human’ Category

Circuit Neuroscience Recently, research into psychiatric disease has made great strides, but continued progress may require unpopular and ethically murky research. Joshua Gordon, the new director of the National Institutes of Mental Health writes in this month’s Nature Neuroscience: “At this unique and exciting time for psychiatry, novel therapies for individuals with mental illnesses seem just around […]


5-hydroxy-methyl CpGs (5-hmCs) were first discovered in 2009 and shown to be enriched in the brain, but remain a mysterious epigenetic mark, despite intriguing functional findings such as: environmental enrichment’s reduction of it, MeCP2’s preference for 5mc over 5hmc, and it’s possible role as an intermediate in demethylation. This new technique will aid their characterization […]


You may have seen my tweet about the upcoming documentary Mars Project, which tackles complex issues such as mental illness, drug use, psychiatry, race, and stigma. When director Jonathan Balazs contacted me about his film, I got really excited about it. If you liked the teaser but want to learn more about the project, check out Balazs’s Indie-Go-Go page […]


COMT, Catechol-O-methyl transferase, is an enzyme that degrades catecholamines–such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine (or adrenaline and noradrenaline as they are called in the UK). It was first discovered in the ’50s by Nobel laureate and pirate Julius Axelrod. More recently, scientists discovered an evolutionarily recent nonsynonomous single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the protein-coding portion of […]


This article is my translation of this Brazilian article  by RICARDO ZORZETTO (with lots of help from google translate) Revising the Numbers Get to know the anatomy of the human brain, especially how researchers got to a figure of 86 billion neurons,instead of the 100 billions previously estimated. —- On Wednesday, January 11, researchers Casarsa Frederico Azevedo […]


First, experimental economists and psychologists like nobel laureates Vernon L. Smith and Daniel Kahneman taught us that we aren’t economically rational–we’re influenced by biases and we use flawed heuristics (though often in very testable, repeatable ways).(1) Then, Neuroeconomists showed that biology affects economic decisions–internasal oxytocin raises trust in risky exchanges, serum serotonin levels predict whether […]


Original full text of the study available from Translational Psychiatry here. Conventionally, children are diagnosed using Autism Diagnostic Interview, Revised (ADI-R) a 93-question survey, and/or the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) which measures behavior. The two test can take up to 2.5 hours and must be administered by clinical professionals.  Dennis Wall–the lead author of the paper and director […]


Scientists reported a new connection between autism and fragile x syndrome in the latest issue of neuron. They sequenced the exomes–the parts of DNA that code proteins–of 343 families that had a single child with autism and at least one unaffected sibling. Looking at de novo mutations (ones that occurred in the sperm or egg […]


Imagine cold fingers creeping up someone’s calf. Now imagine that whenever you saw someone else being touched, you would feel the sensation on your own body. That is mirror-touch synesthesia. Psychologists at UCL verified mirror-touch synesthesia and further showed its linked with heightened empathy in their report in Nature Neuroscience.


Whenever I hear a friend talk about how they only sleep 6 hours a night—I feel a combination of pity (that must be rough) and annoyance (how can they do that to themselves), but reading up on the genetics of sleep maybe I should be feeling jealousy (since I need at least 8 solid hours). […]



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