Archives for posts with tag: brain

When your brain is working hard, increased blood flow makes it heavier.

Another reason why sleep is important – it seems to clear your brain of toxins. During sleep, the flow of fluid around the brain increases, washing away any buildup of waste proteins. This could explain the link between sleep disorders and brain disease such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The research was published in Science.

A prosthetic chip has sent signals to the brain in response to light in partially-sighted rats, and could mean hope one day for people losing their sight through diseases that damage the retina, like macular degeneration.

By comparing brain activity during dreams and when people are awake, researchers have created computer programs that can ‘see’ what you are dreaming. Next step – manipulating dreams? Read the original report in Science.

Researchers have found the nerves in mice that send feel-good messages to the brain during stroking – and similar nerves in humans may explain why we like massages.

Read the original research in Nature.

You don’t just yawn when you are tired – it could be seasonal too. It appears that yawning could help cool your brain, as we yawn more when the weather is cooler – see the paper in Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience.

The brain has its own antidepressant, called neuritin. This seems to both prevent and correct depression, and could be a target for new drugs.

Read the original paper in PNAS.

Smoking cannabis in their teens can lower people’s IQ, according to a study in New Zealand that followed 1000 people for 25 years, and the more that is smoked, the greater the drop. This could be because the brain is still developing and growing before 18. Read the original paper in PNAS.

It’s the last day of London 2012, and Mo Farah is presumably still celebrating his 5,000 m win, coming only a week after the 10,000 m win, making him the first man to win both golds for Team GB. So, what’s behind the science of running? Exercise triggers the release of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). As BDNF helps the brain develop, it’s possible that as we evolved and began to pursue prey over long distances on foot, then the increased levels led to us developing bigger brains. So – exercise can keep your brain fit as well as your body!

Olympic Games 27 July – 12 August

Second Sight Medical Products has developed a medical device, Argus II retinal prosthesis system, that gives blind people a form of sight.

Argus II retinal prosthesis system

Source: Second Sight

The device includes a miniature camera that fits into the patient’s glasses, which converts video images into a series of small electrical pulses. The impulses are transmitted wirelessly to electrodes implanted on the surface of the retina. These stimulate the remaining cells in the retina to create patterns of light in the brain, and the brain learns to interpret these patterns.

Argus II retinal prosthesis system

Source: Second Sight

This has been developed for patients who have lost their sight through retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited eye disease that damages the retina at the back of the eye.

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