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Changing behavior through synaptic engineering

2015-09-08
WORCESTER, MA -- Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School are the first to show that it's possible to reverse the behavior of an animal by flipping a switch in neuronal communication. The research, published in PLOS Biology, provides a new approach for studying the neural circuits that govern behavior and has important implications for how scientists think about neural connectomes. New technologies have fueled the quest to map all the neural connections in the brain to understand how these networks processes information and control behavior. The human ...

Did grandmas make people pair up?

Did grandmas make people pair up?
2015-09-08
SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 7, 2015 - If you are in a special relationship with another person, thank grandma - not just yours, but all grandmothers since humans evolved. University of Utah anthropologist Kristen Hawkes is known for the "grandmother hypothesis," which credits prehistoric grandmothering for our long human lifespan. Now, Hawkes has used computer simulations to link grandmothering and longevity to a surplus of older fertile men and, in turn, to the male tendency to guard a female mate from the competition and form a "pair bond" with her instead of mating with ...

Silicon nanoparticle is a new candidate for an ultrafast all-optical transistor

Silicon nanoparticle is a new candidate for an ultrafast all-optical transistor
2015-09-08
Physicists from the Department of Nanophotonics and Metamaterials at ITMO University have experimentally demonstrated the feasibility of designing an optical analog of a transistor based on a single silicon nanoparticle. Because transistors are some of the most fundamental components of computing circuits, the results of the study have crucial importance for the development of optical computers, where transistors must be very small and ultrafast at the same time. The study was published in the scientific journal Nano Letters. The performance of modern computers, which ...

PolyU develops novel efficient and low-cost semitransparent solar cells

PolyU develops novel efficient and low-cost semitransparent solar cells
2015-09-08
Developing transparent or semitransparent solar cells with high efficiency and low cost to replace the existing opaque and expensive silicon-based solar panels has become increasingly important due to the increasing demands of the building integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) systems. The Department of Applied Physics of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has successfully developed efficient and low-cost semitransparent perovskite solar cells with graphene electrodes. The power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of this novel invention are around 12% when they are illuminated ...

Improved stability of electron spins in qubits

Improved stability of electron spins in qubits
2015-09-08
Calculation with electron spins in a quantum computer assumes that the spin states last for a sufficient period of time. Physicists at the University of Basel and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute have now demonstrated that electron exchange in quantum dots fundamentally limits the stability of this information. Control of this exchange process paves the way for further progress in the coherence of the fragile quantum states. The report from the Basel-based researchers appears in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters. The basic idea of a quantum computer is to ...

IASLC issues new statement on tobacco control and smoking cessation

2015-09-08
DENVER, Colo. -- The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) today issued a new statement on Tobacco Control and Smoking Cessation at the 16th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) in Denver. The statement calls for higher taxes on tobacco products, comprehensive advertising and promotion bans of all tobacco products and product regulation including pack warnings. "Tax policies that increased the cost of cigarettes have played a prominent role in the reduction of cigarette smoking," said Dr. Kenneth Michael Cummings, Professor, Hollings Cancer ...

Large funnel-web spider find surprises scientists

Large funnel-web spider find surprises scientists
2015-09-08
Scientists studying funnel-web spiders at Booderee National Park near Jervis Bay on the New South Wales south coast have found a large example of an unexpected funnel-web species. The scientists believe the 50-millimetre spider is a species of the tree-dwelling genus Hadronyche, not the ground-dwelling genus Atrax, which includes the Sydney funnel-web, the only species reported in the Park's records. "It's remarkable that we have found this other species in Booderee National Park," said Dr Thomas Wallenius, from The Australian National University (ANU). "It shows ...

First superconducting graphene created by UBC researchers

First superconducting graphene created by UBC researchers
2015-09-08
Graphene, the ultra-thin, ultra-strong material made from a single layer of carbon atoms, just got a little more extreme. University of British Columbia (UBC) physicists have been able to create the first ever superconducting graphene sample by coating it with lithium atoms. Although superconductivity has already been observed in intercalated bulk graphite--three-dimensional crystals layered with alkali metal atoms, based on the graphite used in pencils--inducing superconductivity in single-layer graphene has until now eluded scientists. "This first experimental realization ...

Flickr and a citizen science website help in recording a sawfly species range expansion

Flickr and a citizen science website help in recording a sawfly species range expansion
2015-09-08
Social network Flickr and citizen science website BugGuide have helped scientists to expand the known range of a rarely collected parasitic woodwasp, native to the eastern United States. Partially thanks to the two online photograph platforms, now the species' distribution now stretches hundreds of miles west of previous records. Previously known from only 50 specimens mainly from the Northeast, now the species was discovered in the Ozark Mountains by researchers from the University of Arkansas. Their study is published it in the open access journal Biodiversity Data Journal. Spurred ...

Clinical trial for first oral drug candidate specifically developed for sleeping sickness

2015-09-08
[Basel, Switzerland - 8 September 2015] The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) has announced today at the 9th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (ECTMIH) in Basel, Switzerland, the successful completion of Phase I human clinical trials for SCYX-7158 (AN5568), the first oral drug candidate specifically developed from the earliest drug discovery stage to combat human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, a deadly parasitic disease transmitted by the tsetse fly. The Phase I study, conducted in France, assessed the safety, ...

Lazing away the summer

2015-09-08
Edible dormice (Glis glis) spend about eight months on average in hibernation. Wildlife biologists from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology of the Vetmeduni Vienna have shown for the first time that these animals can hibernate for up to 11.4 months. "This may be a world record," says Claudia Bieber, co-author of the study. "Dormice in our climate zone don't just spend the winter months underground, they sometimes begin hibernating in summer." The animals do not hibernate for so long every year, but only in years when beech trees produce few beechnuts. Successful ...

Trust game increases rate synchrony

2015-09-08
In the new study 'Building trust: Heart rate synchrony and arousal during joint action increased by public goods game' (Journal of Physiology and Behavior) PhD and assistant professor Panagiotis Mitkidis and colleagues from the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University studied the link between heart rate and trust. They had 37 pairs of participants do a cooperative task involving building LEGO cars. The control group only did the LEGO task, while a second group played an investment game in between the building sessions. The game, known as the 'Public Goods Game', had ...

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is safe, effective for very elderly patients

2015-09-08
Select patients age 90 years and older with aortic stenosis (AS) can benefit from a relatively new, minimally invasive surgery for aortic valve replacement, according to an article in the September 2015 issue of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Key points Both transfemoral and transapical approaches to TAVR appear to be safe and effective for treatment of aortic stenosis in select patients age 90 years and older. By 6 months post-surgery, most quality-of-life measures had stabilized at a level considerably better than baseline, meaning patients quality of life was ...

Brands are perceived in the same way as faces

2015-09-08
Lueneburg. A recent study on the psychology of trademarks shows that they are perceived by the same psychological mechanisms as those, which enable the recognition of faces. The survey, whose result is particularly interesting for the advertising industry and brand management, originated at the Institute for Experimental Business Psychology at Leuphana University of Lueneburg. For their investigation, Leuphana researchers Rainer Hoeger and Anne Lange compared the reactions of viewers to 16 well-known brands, such as Coca Cola, Rolex, Porsche or Apple and 18 computer-generated ...

Volunteer black hole hunters as good as the experts

Volunteer black hole hunters as good as the experts
2015-09-08
Trained volunteers are as good as professional astronomers at finding jets shooting from massive black holes and matching them to their host galaxies, research suggests. Scientists working on citizen science project Radio Galaxy Zoo developed an online tutorial to teach volunteers how to spot black holes and other objects that emit large amounts of energy through radio waves. Through the project, volunteers are given telescope images taken in both the radio and infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum and asked to compare the pictures and match the "radio source" ...

Rare melanoma carries unprecedented burden of mutations

2015-09-08
A rare, deadly form of skin cancer known as desmoplasmic melanoma (DM) may possess the highest burden of gene mutations of any cancer, suggesting that immunotherapy may be a promising approach for treatment, according to an international team led by UC San Francisco scientists. One of these mutations, never before observed in any cancer, may shield nascent DM tumors from destruction by the immune system and allow further mutations to develop. "The focus of our lab has been to show that there's not just one 'melanoma' but many different types," said senior author Boris ...

Is old rock really as 'solid as a rock'?

2015-09-08
In the course of billions of years continents break up, drift apart, and are pushed back together again. The cores of continents are, however, geologically extremely stable and have survived up to 3.8 billions of years. These cores that are called cratons are the oldest known geological features of our planet. It was assumed that the cratons are stable because of their especially solid structure due to relatively low temperatures compared to the surrounding mantle. A team of German-American scientists now discovered that these cratons that were assumed to be "as solid as ...

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia linked to poor clinical outcomes

2015-09-08
A novel research tool developed by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London has identified a link between the negative symptoms experienced by people with schizophrenia and adverse clinical outcomes. Negative symptoms can include poor motivation, poor eye contact and a reduction in speech and activity. As a result, people with schizophrenia often appear emotionless, flat and apathetic. These contrast with positive symptoms - psychotic behaviours not seen in healthy people, such as delusions or hallucinations. Published ...

MicroRNAs are digested, not absorbed

2015-09-08
This news release is available in German. The scientific world was astonished when, in 2011, Chinese researchers claimed to have found evidence suggesting that minute fragments of plant genetic material - so-called microRNA molecules - of rice ingested from food could play a role in regulating physiological processes in the human body. If this is indeed true, it might even be possible to deliberately modify human physiological functions via this route, for instance by incorporating microRNAs into novel functional foods. As a strategy, this holds considerable potential. ...

Secukinumab in plaque psoriasis: Manufacturer dossier provided no hint of an added benefit

2015-09-08
Secukinumab (trade name: Cosentyx) has been approved since January 2015 for adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) examined in a dossier assessment whether this drug offers an added benefit over the appropriate comparator therapy. Such an added benefit cannot be derived from the dossier, however: In patients who are candidates for systemic treatment, an indirect comparison provided no suitable data because the minimum study duration had not been reached. In adults in whom other systemic treatments ...

Indications of the origin of the Spin Seebeck effect discovered

2015-09-08
This news release is available in German. The recovery of waste heat in all kinds of processes poses one of the main challenges of our time to making established processes more energy-efficient and thus more environmentally friendly. The Spin Seebeck effect (SSE) is a novel, only rudimentarily understood effect, which allows for the conversion of a heat flux into electrical energy, even in electrically non-conducting materials. A team of physicists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), the University of Konstanz, TU Kaiserslautern, and the Massachusetts Institute ...

WSU researchers create super-stretchable metallic conductors for flexible electronics

2015-09-08
PULLMAN, Wash.--Washington State University researchers have discovered how to stretch metal films used in flexible electronics to twice their size without breaking. The discovery could lead to dramatic improvements and addresses one of the biggest challenges in flexible electronics, an industry still in its infancy with applications such as bendable batteries, robotic skins, wearable monitoring devices and sensors, and connected fabrics. The work was led by Rahul Panat and Indranath Dutta, researchers in Voiland College's School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, ...

Survey reinforces further understanding of dietary deficiencies and optimum nutrition needed

2015-09-08
September 8, 2015, New York, New York- Data from a three-country survey seeking to understand beliefs of adults on the role of diet for optimal health, as well as consumption of key micronutrients including Omega-3 and Vitamin D, will be published in the November/December issue of Nutrition Today. The survey of 3,000 American, British and German adults found that 72 percent reported having a "healthy" or "optimal" diet and more than half (52 percent) believed they consume all the key nutrients needed for optimal nutrition through food sources alone. However, the prevalence ...

Reviving extinct Mediterranean forests, urban land-sparing, ocean noise pollution

2015-09-08
Extinct Mediterranean forests of biblical times could return and thrive in warmer, drier future. The Mediterranean has cradled humanity and our cities, farms, domesticated animals, and logging habits for many thousands of years. During the last 5 to 8 millennia, as people developed farming and settled in cities, the landscape has gradually changed from a thick canopy of trees to open grass and shrubs. The ghosts of Sicily's extinct evergreen forests of holm oak (Quercus ilex) and olive trees (Olea europaea) remain in the record of pollen left in the lakebed sediments. ...

Brain damage during stroke may point to source of addiction

2015-09-08
A pair of studies suggests that a region of the brain - called the insular cortex - may hold the key to treating addiction. Scientists have come to this conclusion after finding that smokers who suffered a stroke in the insular cortex were far more likely to quit smoking and experience fewer and less severe withdrawal symptoms than those with strokes in other parts of the brain. "These findings indicate that the insular cortex may play a central role in addiction," said Amir Abdolahi Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the studies. "When this part of the brain is damaged during ...
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