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Dysfunction of intricate astrocyte cells may underlie autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy

New research from Duke University finds that astrocytes are much more than neurons' entourage. Their unique architecture is also extremely important for regulating the development and function of synapses in the brain. When they don't work right, astrocyte dysfunction may underlie neuronal problems observed in devastating diseases like autism, schizophrenia and

Immune Cells Help Rebuild Damaged Nerves

"This finding is quite surprising and raises an important question: do neutrophils play a significant role in nerve disorders?" said Richard Zigmond, PhD, senior author on the study and professor of neurosciences, neurosurgery, and pathology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Neutrophils are one of the most common

Nerve Cells Gatekeepers Take Many Forms

Using sophisticated imaging and statistical methods, the scientists employed single-molecule FRET imaging techniques to establish a beachhead at the NMDA receptor gate that, when activated, allows ions to flow through the nerve cell's membrane. FRET stands for Förster resonance energy transfer. It is a way to use the light emitted by

Key Component of Respiratory Center Identified

The control of breathing is essential for life. Without an adequate response to increased carbon dioxide levels, people can suffer from breathing disturbances, sickness, and panic. In a worst-case scenario, it can lead to premature death, as in sudden infant death syndrome. While it is known that respiration is regulated

Nerves Control the Body’s Bacterial Community

An important breakthrough in deciphering these highly complex relationships has now been achieved by a research team from Kiel University's Zoological Institute. Using the freshwater polyp Hydra as a model organism, the Kiel-based researchers and their international colleagues investigated how the simple nervous system of these animals interacts with the

Stimuli Fading Away en Route to Consciousness

The researchers are basing their study on a well-known phenomenon: When presented with two images in rapid succession, humans can only consciously perceive the second one if there is sufficient time between the two presentations. In this study the participants saw a series of pictures on a computer screen, where

Ricin only Lethal in Combination with Sugar

The plant toxin ricin is one of the most poisonous naturally occurring proteins, making it an extremely dangerous bioweapon. Ricin attacks have made the headlines a number of times over the years, including the spectacular "umbrella murder" in London in the 1970s, or more recently the ricin letters addressed to