readings for today:

“Scientists have long known about such animal kinship attachments, some known as “imprinting,” but the mechanisms underlying them have been hidden in a black box at the cellular and molecular levels. Now biologists at the University of California San Diego have unlocked key elements of these mysteries, with implications for understanding social attraction and aversion in a range of animals and humans.

Davide Dulcis of UC San Diego’s Psychiatry Department at the School of Medicine, Giordano Lippi, Darwin Berg and Nick Spitzer of the Division of Biological Sciences and their colleagues published their results in the August 31, 2017 online issue of the journal Neuron.”

“The results lead us to revise the often neuro-centric view of brain development to now appreciate the contributions for non-neuronal cells such as glia,” explains Vilaiwan Fernandes, a postdoctoral fellow in New York University’s Department of Biology and the study’s lead author. “Indeed, our study found that fundamental questions in brain development with regard to the timing, identity, and coordination of nerve cell birth can only be understood when the glial contribution is accounted for.”

“When the first U.S. team to edit human embryos with CRISPR revealed their success earlier this month, the field reeled with the possibility that the gene-editing technique might soon produce children free of their parents’ genetic defects. But the way CRISPR repaired the paternal mutation targeted in the embryos was also a surprise. Instead of replacing the gene defect with strands of DNA that the researchers inserted, the embryos appeared to use the mother’s healthy gene as a template for repairing the cut made by CRISPR’s enzyme.”

“Nerve injury-induced pain affects millions and is a comorbidity factor for individuals living with traumatic spinal cord or peripheral nerve injuries. Pain is associated with aberrant plasticity and sprouting in the injured peripheral and central nervous systems. However, the mechanisms underlying these structural changes are not understood. Here, new data implicate stress hormones (steroids) and GR activation as a novel mechanism underlying enhanced sensory neuron plasticity in injured peripheral nerves. These data also have important implications for the development and care of nerve-injury induced pain, including the use of steroids as a treatment for inflammatory pain.”

“ASU Associate Professor of psychology Samuel McClure and researcher Ian Ballard wanted to know why. Their paper, “More is meaningful: The magnitude effect in intertemporal choice depends on self-control,” published today in the journal Psychological Science, may provide some answers. In it, the duo detail how they were able to use neuroimaging to show that self-control varies depending on how important a decision is, and that it can be augmented when people are asked to justify their decision.”