Tag: Neuroscience

Study reveals a protein’s key contribution to heterogeneity of neurons

The versatility of the nervous system comes from not only the diversity of ways in which neurons communicate in circuits, but also their “plasticity,” or ability to change those connections when new information has to be remembered, when their circuit partners change, or other conditions emerge. A new study by neuroscientists at The Picower Institute […]

Read More

Feast or forage? Study finds circuit that helps a brain decide

MIT neuroscientists have discovered the elegant architecture of a fundamental decision-making brain circuit that allows a C. elegans worm to either forage for food or stop to feast when it finds a source. Capable of integrating multiple streams of sensory information, the circuit employs just a few key neurons to sustain long-lasting behaviors and yet flexibly switch […]

Read More

Study finds a striking difference between neurons of humans and other mammals

Neurons communicate with each other via electrical impulses, which are produced by ion channels that control the flow of ions such as potassium and sodium. In a surprising new finding, MIT neuroscientists have shown that human neurons have a much smaller number of these channels than expected, compared to the neurons of other mammals. The […]

Read More

Study links gene to cognitive resilience in the elderly

Many people develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia as they get older. However, others remain sharp well into old age, even if their brains show underlying signs of neurodegeneration. Among these cognitively resilient people, researchers have identified education level and amount of time spent on intellectually stimulating activities as factors that help prevent dementia. […]

Read More

3 Questions: Maaya Prasad and Kathleen Esfahany on vision, perception, and the poetry of science

If you’re a frequent commuter through Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or a visitor to Massachusetts General Hospital, you might catch a glimpse of an art exhibit featuring some familiar faces. The exhibit, “The Poetry of Science,” pairs photographs of notable scientists, including MIT students and researchers, with poems about their research areas of interest. […]

Read More

Taming the data deluge

An oncoming tsunami of data threatens to overwhelm huge data-rich research projects on such areas that range from the tiny neutrino to an exploding supernova, as well as the mysteries deep within the brain.  When LIGO picks up a gravitational-wave signal from a distant collision of black holes and neutron stars, a clock starts ticking […]

Read More

Artificial networks learn to smell like the brain

Using machine learning, a computer model can teach itself to smell in just a few minutes. When it does, researchers have found, it builds a neural network that closely mimics the olfactory circuits that animal brains use to process odors. Animals from fruit flies to humans all use essentially the same strategy to process olfactory […]

Read More

Study shows fragile X treatment can incur resistance, suggests ways around it

Mark Bear, Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, recalls the “eureka moment” 20 years ago when he realized that a severe developmental brain disorder — fragile X syndrome — might be treated with drugs that inhibit a neurotransmitter receptor called mGluR5. The idea, that mGluR5 stimulates excessive protein synthesis in fragile X neurons that disrupts […]

Read More

How the brain deals with uncertainty

As we interact with the world, we are constantly presented with information that is unreliable or incomplete — from jumbled voices in a crowded room to solicitous strangers with unknown motivations. Fortunately, our brains are well equipped to evaluate the quality of the evidence we use to make decisions, usually allowing us to act deliberately, […]

Read More

New integrative computational neuroscience center established at MIT’s McGovern Institute

With the tools of modern neuroscience, researchers can peer into the brain with unprecedented accuracy. Recording devices listen in on the electrical conversations between neurons, picking up the voices of hundreds of cells at a time. Genetic tools allow us to focus on specific types of neurons based on their molecular signatures. Microscopes zoom in […]

Read More

David Julius ’77 shares the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

David Julius ’77 will share the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced this morning in Stockholm. Julius, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco, shares the prize with Ardem Patapoutian, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute, for their discoveries in how the body […]

Read More

Behind the scenes, brain circuit ensures vision remains reliable

When it comes to processing vision, the brain is full of noise. Information moves from the eyes through many connections in the brain. Ideally, the same image would be reliably represented the same way each time, but instead different groups of cells in the visual cortex can become stimulated by the same scenes. So how […]

Read More

New bionics center established at MIT with $24 million gift

A deepening understanding of the brain has created unprecedented opportunities to alleviate the challenges posed by disability. Scientists and engineers are taking design cues from biology itself to create revolutionary technologies that restore the function of bodies affected by injury, aging, or disease — from prosthetic limbs that effortlessly navigate tricky terrain to digital nervous […]

Read More

Statistical model defines ketamine anesthesia’s effects on the brain

By developing the first statistical model to finely characterize how ketamine anesthesia affects the brain, a team of researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and Massachusetts General Hospital have laid new groundwork for three advances: understanding how ketamine induces anesthesia; monitoring the unconsciousness of patients in surgery; and applying a new method […]

Read More

Novel approach reverses amblyopia in animals

Amblyopia is the most common cause of vision loss in children, according to the U.S. National Eye Institute. It arises when visual experience is disrupted during infancy, for example by a cataract in one eye. Even after the cataract is removed, vision through the affected eye is impaired because of a failure of this eye […]

Read More