What I am reading today:
“Researchers studying honeybees during learning activities have shown that memory management in the bee brain is controlled by small genetic elements called microRNAs that help regulate gene expression.
Queensland Brain Institute researchers Professor Charles Claudianos and Dr Judith Reinhard have led an international team which has discovered that these microRNAs could directly target the key developmental gene ‘actin’, which controls the ability of nerve cells to connect with other nerve cells.”
“To capture the details of the aerodynamics of the hummingbird’s ability to hover, Tyson Hedrick, associate professor of biology at UNC, put tiny dabs of non-toxic paint at nine places on a female ruby-throated hummingbird’s wing. Then he took high-speed videos at 1,000 frames per second with four cameras while the bird hovered in front of an artificial flower.
Then at Vanderbilt Haoxiang Luo, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and doctoral student Jialei Song took the video, extracted data on the position of the points in three dimensions and reconstructed the varying wing shape and position for a full flapping cycle.”
“During brain development, neurons extend projections called axons to connect with other neurons. Axons from groups of neurons with the same function tend to extend together, but the mechanisms involved in keeping the growing axons in contact for collective extension have been unclear. Masatoshi Takeichi, Shuichi Hayashi and colleagues from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology and RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center have now revealed that the protein protocadherin-17 (Pcdh17) plays a crucial role in this coordinated axon growth and correct development of the nervous system.”
““The clinical histology slide offered us a great opportunity to generate the first genome sequence of this elusive class of tapeworms,” says Dr Hayley Bennett, first author of the study from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. “However, we only had a minute amount of DNA available to work with – just 40 billionths of a gram. So we had to make difficult decisions as to what we wanted to find out from the DNA we had.”
To identify the exact species of worm, the researchers sequenced one particular gene, the so-called “barcode of life”. Fortunately for the patient, the gene’s DNA sequence revealed that the parasite was the more benign of the two sparganosis-causing worm species.”
““We think that the degree of plasticity in the cortex gets more and more limited with older people,” said Takeo Watanabe, the Fred M. Seed Professor at Brown University and a co-author of the study published in Nature Communications. “However, they keep the ability to learn, visually at least, by changing white matter structure.”
The study’s lead authors are Yuko Yotsumoto of the University of Tokyo and Li-Hung Chang of Brown University and National Yang Ming University in Taiwan. The corresponding author is Yuka Sasaki, associate professor (research) of cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences at Brown University.”
“To date, roughly 85 people worldwide have undergone hand replant or transplant surgery, an 8- to 10-hour procedure in which surgeons reattach the bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and soft tissue between the patient’s severed wrist and their own hand or one from a donor, often using a needle finer than a human hair. After surgery, studies have shown that it takes about 2 years for the peripheral nerves to regenerate, with sensation slowly creeping through the palm and into the fingertips at a rate of roughly 2 mm per day, says Scott Frey, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Missouri, Columbia.”