Healthy mitochondria could stop Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and neurodegeneration worldwide. A major hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of toxic plaques in the brain, formed by the abnormal aggregation of a protein called beta-amyloid inside neurons. Still...

CLOCK Gene May Hold Answers to Human Brain Evolution

A new study provides insight on the matter by demonstrating that a gene controlling our biological clocks also plays a vital role in regulating human-specific genes important to brain evolution. The findings from the O’Donnell Brain Institute open new paths of research into how CLOCK proteins produced by the CLOCK gene affect brain function and the processes by which neurons find their proper place in the brain.

New Genetic Models of Autism Point to Cellular Roots of Disease

Researchers at UC San Francisco have developed a new genetic model of autism, using neurons created in the lab from patients’ own skin cells. Their experiments suggest that abnormalities in the electrical firing of neurons may lead to behavioral and developmental...

Some video games are good for older adults’ brains

Playing 3D-platform video games regularly may improve cognitive functions in seniors and increase grey matter in a brain structure called the hippocampus. If you’re between 55 and 75 years old, you may want to try playing 3D platform games like Super Mario 64 to stave off mild cognitive impairment and perhaps even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity

Specially tailored, ultrafast pulses of light can trigger neurons to fire and could one day help patients with light-sensitive circadian or mood problems, according to a new study in mice at the University of Illinois. Chemists have used such carefully crafted light beams, called coherent control, to regulate chemical reactions, but this study is the first demonstration of using them to control function in a living cell. The study used optogenetic mouse neurons – that is, cells that had a gene added to make them respond to light.