One of the goals in neuroscience is to obtain tractable laboratory cultures that closely recapitulate in vivo systems while still providing ease of use in the lab. Because neurons can exist in the body over a lifetime, long-term culture systems are necessary so as to closely mimic the physiological conditions under laboratory culture conditions. Ideally, such a neuronal organoid culture would contain multiple cell types, be highly differentiated, and have a high density of interconnected cells. However, before these types of cultures can be created, certain problems associated with long-term neuronal culturing must be addressed. We sought to develop a new protocol which may further prolong the duration and integrity of E18 rat hippocampal cultures. We have developed a protocol that allows for culturing of E18 hippocampal neurons at high densities for more than 120 days. These cultured hippocampal neurons are (i) well differentiated with high numbers of synapses, (ii) anchored securely to their substrate, (iii) have high levels of functional connectivity, and (iv) form dense multi-layered cellular networks. We propose that our culture methodology is likely to be effective for multiple neuronal subtypes–particularly those that can be grown in Neurobasal/B27 media. This methodology presents new avenues for long-term functional studies in neurons. - by Todd GK et al., PLoS ONE 8(4): e58996. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058996
[Review] In the mammalian cortex, axons are highly ramified and link an enormous number of neurons over large distances. The conventional view assumes that action potentials (APs) are initiated at the axon initial segment in an all-or-none fashion and are then self-propagated orthodromically along axon collaterals without distortion of the AP waveform. By contrast, recent experimental results suggest that the axonal AP waveform can be modified depending on the activation states of the ion channels and receptors on axonal cell membranes. This AP modulation can regulate neurotransmission to postsynaptic neurons. In addition, the latest studies have provided evidence that cortical axons can integrate somatic burst firings and promote activity-dependent ectopic AP generation, which may underlie the oscillogenesis of fast rhythmic network activity. These seminal observations indicate that axons can perform diverse functional operations that extend beyond the prevailing model of axon physiology. (...) - by Sasaki T, Neuroscience Research, Volume 75, Issue 2, February 2013, Pages 83–88
The BAM project will be an expensive undertaking. Will it be worth the cost?
President Barack Obama’s public-private initiative to create an activity map of the human brain will cost more than $3 billion, projections say, or $300 million annually for 10 years. The project has multiple private and public institutions lined up to participate, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science Foundation. All parties hope that the initiative will move brain science forward with the same kind of money and focused effort that drove the Genome Project. (...) - GEN News, Insight & Intelligence, by Patricia Fitzpatrick Dimond, Ph.D., Marsh 29, 2013
The idea of an “artificial leaf” sounds simple enough: Take a small, cheap, light-collecting device the size of a typical leaf, dunk it in a quart of water, and use solar energy to generate enough hydrogen gas for powering a small ...
Thanks in part to visual social networks like Instagram, visual storytelling has gotten much more interesting and much more integral part of marketing for all types of businesses.Follow The American Genius on Facebook for exclusive & breaking business...
Silicon Valley hosts lavish ceremony for Breakthrough prize that aims to give scientists celebrity status and inspire interest in life's 'big questions-
Silicon Valley has a tendency to tackle social ills with big ideas, its feisty startups revolutionising everything from healthcare to education. Now a handful of billionaire engineers have turned their attention to a social blight that affects their own kind: the lack of appreciation (and funding) for scientists.
The second Breakthrough prize for life sciences is being awarded on Thursday at Nasa's Ames Research Centre in Mountain View, California, about a five-minute drive from the headquarters of Google. It will probably be the most lavish awards ceremony that its six winning scientists have ever been to.
Actor Kevin Spacey is expected to host, while comedian Conan O'Brien and actor Glenn Close will make presentations. Organisers hope for the whole event to be televised, and the six prizes will be worth $3m (£1.83m) – each. This is among the most lucrative awards in science, almost triple the size of the Nobel prize, and bigger than the $1.7m Templeton prize. It's expected to be bigger and bolder than the last similar ceremony, held on 20 March 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, where Morgan Freeman hosted and Sarah Brightman sang.
It's like the "Oscars of science", says Yuri Milner, the wealthy technology investor behind it all. Once upon a time Milner was himself a physics major at Moscow State University, but he ended up dropping out and embracing the world of tech investing instead. In 2009 he steered one of the first big funding rounds in Facebook, before putting money behind Groupon, Zynga, Twitter and Airbnb and picking up a host of new contacts and street cred in Silicon Valley. In 2011 Forbes magazine valued him as a billionaire.
AFP Memories can't always be trusted, neuroscience experiment shows Los Angeles Times The researchers, led by Susumu Tonegawa of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the RIKEN Brain Science Institute outside of Tokyo, suggested that...
Scientists at UC San Francisco have discovered how memory recall is linked to decision-making in rats, showing that measurable activity in one part of the brain occurs when rats in a maze are playing out memories that help them decide which way to turn. The more they play out these memories, the more likely they are to find their way correctly to the end of the maze. (...) - by UCSF, ScienceBlog
We present an efficient approach to discriminate between typical and atypical brains from macroscopic neural dynamics recorded as magnetoencephalograms (MEG). Our approach is based on the fact that spontaneous brain activity can be accurately described with stochastic dynamics, as a multivariate Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process (mOUP). By fitting the data to a mOUP we obtain: 1) the functional connectivity matrix, corresponding to the drift operator, and 2) the traces of background stochastic activity (noise) driving the brain. We applied this method to investigate functional connectivity and background noise in juvenile patients (n = 9) with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and compared them to age-matched juvenile control subjects (n = 10). Our analysis reveals significant alterations in both functional brain connectivity and background noise in ASD patients. The dominant connectivity change in ASD relative to control shows enhanced functional excitation from occipital to frontal areas along a parasagittal axis. Background noise in ASD patients is spatially correlated over wide areas, as opposed to control, where areas driven by correlated noise form smaller patches. An analysis of the spatial complexity reveals that it is significantly lower in ASD subjects. Although the detailed physiological mechanisms underlying these alterations cannot be determined from macroscopic brain recordings, we speculate that enhanced occipital-frontal excitation may result from changes in white matter density in ASD, as suggested in previous studies. We also venture that long-range spatial correlations in the background noise may result from less specificity (or more promiscuity) of thalamo-cortical projections. All the calculations involved in our analysis are highly efficient and outperform other algorithms to discriminate typical and atypical brains with a comparable level of accuracy. Altogether our results demonstrate a promising potential of our approach as an efficient biomarker for altered brain dynamics associated with a cognitive phenotype. (...) - by Dominguer LG et al., PLoS ONE 8(4): e61493
Epilepsy is a prevalent neurological disorder associated with significant morbidity and mortality, but the only available drug therapies target its symptoms rather than the underlying cause. The process that links brain injury or other predisposing factors to the subsequent emergence of epilepsy is termed epileptogenesis. Substantial research has focused on elucidating the mechanisms of epileptogenesis so as to identify more specific targets for intervention, with the hope of preventing epilepsy before seizures emerge. Recent work has yielded important conceptual advances in this field. We suggest that such insights into the mechanisms of epileptogenesis converge at the level of cortical circuit dysfunction. - by Goldberg EM & Coulter DA, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 14, 337-349 (May 2013)
New techniques are letting researchers look at the activity of the whole brain at once. Most brain areas multitask, and the brain is dynamic. It can respond differently to the same events in different times and circumstances.