Scientists Inject Human Brain Cells Into Mice, Make Them Smarter

And you thought it was all about the neurons.

In an experiment that might seem like something only a mad scientist would conjure, researchers injected human brain cells into the brains of mice to see how it would affect the way the mice thought. It did: the mice got smarter. But the cognition boosting cells weren’t neurons, they were the red-headed step-children of neuroscience called astrocytes. The study turns on its head the role historically attributed to astrocytes of simply supporting the all important function of neurons without playing a significant role in how we learn and think. It may very well be that humans owe much of their unique cognitive capabilities to astrocytes.

[Source: Wikipedia]

[Source: Wikipedia]

via Scientists Inject Human Brain Cells Into Mice, Make Them Smarter | Singularity Hub.

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Biologists Make a Computer From a Living Cell That Can Detect Cancer

If biologists could put computational controls inside living cells, they could program them to sense and report on the presence of cancer, create drugs on site as they’re needed, or dynamically adjust their activities in fermentation tanks used to make drugs and other chemicals. Now researchers at Stanford University have developed a way to make genetic parts that can perform the logic calculations that might someday control such activities.

The Stanford researchers’ genetic logic gate can be used to perform the full complement of digital logic tasks, and it can store information, too. It works by making changes to the cell’s genome, creating a kind of transcript of the cell’s activities that can be read out later with a DNA sequencer. The researchers call their invention a “transcriptor” for its resemblance to the transistor in electronics. “We want to make tools to put computers inside any living cell—a little bit of data storage, a way to communicate, and logic,” says Drew Endy, the bioengineering professor at Stanford who led the work.

via Biologists Make a Computer From a Living Cell That Can Detect Cancer, | MIT Technology Review.

Social isolation increases death risk in older people

Social isolation is associated with a higher risk of death in older people regardless of whether they consider themselves lonely, research suggests.A study of 6,500 UK men and women aged over 52 found that being isolated from family and friends was linked with a 26% higher death risk over seven years.Whether or not participants felt lonely did not alter the impact of social isolation on health.

via BBC News – Social isolation increases death risk in older people.

Brain Researchers Can Detect Who We Are Thinking About

Scientists scanning the human brain can now tell whom a person is thinking of, the first time researchers have been able to identify what people are imagining from imaging technologies.

Work to visualize thought is starting to pile up successes. Recently, scientists have used brain scans to decode imagery directly from the brain, such as what number people have just seen and what memory a person is recalling. They can now even reconstruct videos of what a person has watched based on their brain activity alone. Cornell University cognitive neuroscientist Nathan Spreng and his colleagues wanted to carry this research one step further by seeing if they could deduce the mental pictures of people that subjects conjure up in their heads.

via Brain Researchers Can Detect Who We Are Thinking About: Scientific American.

Eating Too Much Salt May Trigger MS Or Another Autoimmune Disease

High salt intake isn’t just a concern for those with high blood pressure or heart disease anymore.

Three new studies, published together in the journal Nature, are raising the alarm that eating too much salt may put you at risk for a host of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

via Eating Too Much Salt May Trigger MS Or Another Autoimmune Disease – Forbes.