June 6, 2013
Huntington's disease, like other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, is characterized by the loss of a particular type of brain cell. This cell type has been regenerated in a mouse model of the disease, in a study led by University of Rochester Medical Center scientists.
Mice whose received this brain regeneration treatment lived far longer than untreated mice. The study was published online Thursday in Cell Stem Cell.
We believe that our data suggest the feasibility of this process as a viable therapeutic strategy for Huntington's disease,said senior study author Steve Goldman, co-director of Rochester's Center for Translational Neuromedicine, in a press release.
May 23, 2013
A brief visual task can predict IQ, according to a new study. This surprisingly simple exercise measures the brain's unconscious ability to filter out visual movement. The study shows that individuals whose brains are better at automatically suppressing background motion perform better on standard measures of intelligence.
The test is the first purely sensory assessment to be strongly correlated with IQ and may provide a non-verbal and culturally unbiased tool for scientists seeking to understand neural processes associated with general intelligence.
Because intelligence is such a broad construct, you can't really track it back to one part of the brain,says Duje Tadin, a senior author on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.
But since this task is so simple and so closely linked to IQ, it may give us clues about what makes a brain more efficient, and, consequently, more intelligent.
May 17, 2013
W. Spencer Klubben Wins Walt and Bobbi Makous Prize
The second recipient of the Walt and Bobbi Makous Prize has been awarded to: W. Spencer Klubben, a Biomedical Engineering senior working in Ania Majewska's laboratory. As a biomedical engineer, Spencer concentrated in medical optics and developed a strong interest in visual perception and development. Spencer's work has primarily focused on quantifying microglia's effect on neuroplasticity within the visual cortex and visual system. Most experimental methods have been focused around the utilization of optical imaging to analyze neuronal activity within mouse cortex. Experiments were conducted on mice with a varying dosage of CX3CR1, a single allele genetic fractalkine receptor responsible for the mobility of microglia. Spencer will receive the Makous Prize at a College-wide award ceremony on Saturday, May 19.
The Walt and Bobbi Makous Prize was established this year by the Center for Visual Science, a research program of more than 30 faculty at the University dedicated to understanding how the human eye and brain allow us to see. The prize is named for Walt Makous, who was Director of the Center for Visual Science at the University of Rochester throughout the 1980s, and his wife Bobbi. The prize honors the graduating senior who has made the most outstanding contribution to vision research at Rochester.
May 10, 2013
Children with autism see simple movements twice as fast as other children their age, a new study finds. Researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Rochester were looking to test a common theory about autism which holds that overwhelming sensory stimulation inhibits other brain functions. The researchers figured they could check that by studying how kids with autism process moving images.
One can think of autism as a brain impairment, but another way to view autism is as a condition where the balance between different brain processes is impaired,says Duje Tadin, a co-author of the study out this week in the Journal of Neuroscience.
That imbalance could lead to functional impairments, and it often does, but it can also result in enhancements.
May 9, 2013
Children with autism see simple movement twice as quickly as other children their age, according to a new study. Scientists think this this hypersensitivity to motion may provide clues to what causes the disorder. The findings may explain why some people suffering with autism are sensitive to bright lights and loud noises.
We think of autism as a social disorder because children with this condition often struggle with social interactions, but what we sometimes neglect is that almost everything we know about the world comes from our senses. Abnormalities in how a person sees or hears can have a profound effect on social communication,says Duje Tadin, one of the lead authors on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.
Although previous studies have found that people with autism possess enhanced visual abilities with still images, this is the first research to discover a heightened awareness of motion. The findings were reported in the Journal of Neuroscience by Tadin, co-lead author Jennifer Foss-Feig, a postdoctoral fellow at the Child Study Center at Yale University, and colleagues at Vanderbilt University.
May 8, 2013
Children with autism see simple movement twice as quickly as other children their age, and this hypersensitivity to motion may provide clues to a fundamental cause of the developmental disorder, according to a new study.
Such heightened sensory perception in autism may help explain why some people with the disorder are painfully sensitive to noise and bright lights. It also may be linked to some of the complex social and behavioral deficits associated with autism, says Duje Tadin, one of the lead authors on the study and an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.
We think of autism as a social disorder because children with this condition often struggle with social interactions, but what we sometimes neglect is that almost everything we know about the world comes from our senses. Abnormalities in how a person sees or hears can have a profound effect on social communication.
May 1, 2013
Richard Aslin, the William R. Kenan Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and director of the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging at the University of Rochester, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Aslin will be inducted into the academy next April during its 151st annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
This honor is richly deserved. Dick is a pioneer in the field of cognitive development,said Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering.
His work has opened up a major new field and has transformed our understanding of how infants learn.
April 9, 2013
NGP Graduate Student Kelli Fagan Wins Poster Award
Kelli Fagan, a third-year NGP student in Doug Portman's lab, won first place in the
Multicellular/Organismalcategory the Graduate Student Society poster session held on Apr. 5, 2013. Kelli's poster was entitled
Sexually dimorphic neuromodulatory signaling elicits sex differences in sensory behavior.Along with this honor comes an $800 travel award that will allow Kelli to present her work at the upcoming Cell Symposium on Genes, Circuits and Behavior in Toronto, Canada. Congratulations, Kelli!
April 4, 2013
NGP Graduate Student, Revathi Balasubramanian, Wins Award for Excellence in Teaching
Revathi Balasubramanian, a Neuroscience Graduate Program student in Dr. Lin Gan's lab, studying the role of transcription factors in retinal neurogenesis, has been named a winner of the 2013 Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. Only a handful of these are awarded each year, and all this year’s nominees were extremely well-qualified. Congratulations Revathi!
March 27, 2013
Neuroscience graduate student, Ryan Dawes, has been awarded a 2013 Breast Cancer Research Grant, from the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. The 1-year, $50,000 grant will fund his project, entitled Breast Cancer Exosomes, Novel Intermediaries in Psychosocial Stress-induced Tumor Pathogenesis and was only one of two applications to be awarded this prestigious grant. This work will investigate if psychosocial stress can modulate the number or content of secreted small vesicles (exosomes), and determine if this can alter the process of tumorigenesis in an animal model of spontaneous breast cancer as Ryan continues his research in Dr. Edward Brown's lab.
March 7, 2013
A human glial cell (green) among normal mouse glial cells (red). The human cell is larger, sends out more fibers and has more connections than do mouse cells. Mice with this type of human cell implanted in their brains perform better on learning and memory tests than do typical mice.
For more than a century, neurons have been the superstars of the brain. Their less glamorous partners, glial cells, can't send electric signals, and so they've been mostly ignored. Now scientists have injected some human glial cells into the brains of newborn mice. When the mice grew up, they were faster learners. The study, published Thursday in Cell Stem Cell by Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc. and Dr. Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., not only introduces a new tool to study the mechanisms of the human brain, it supports the hypothesis that glial cells — and not just neurons — play an important role in learning.
Today, glial research and Dr. Goldman were featured on National Public Radio (NPR) speaking about the glial research that is outlined in this current publication.
I can't tell the differences between a neuron from a bird or a mouse or a primate or a human,says Goldman, glial cells are easy to tell apart.
Human glial cells — human astrocytes — are much larger than those of lower species. They have more fibers and they send those fibers out over greater distances.
In collaboration with the Nedergaard Lab, newborn mice had some human glial cells injected into their brains. The mice grew up, and so did the human glial cells. The cells spread through the mouse brain, integrating perfectly with mouse neurons and, in some areas, outnumbering their mouse counterparts. All the while Goldman says the glial cells maintained their human characteristics.
March 7, 2013
Glial cells – a family of cells found in the human central nervous system and, until recently, considered mere
housekeepers– now appear to be essential to the unique complexity of the human brain. Scientists reached this conclusion after demonstrating that when transplanted into mice, these human cells could influence communication within the brain, allowing the animals to learn more rapidly.
The study, out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, suggests that the evolution of a subset of glia called astrocytes – which are larger and more complex in humans than other species – may have been one of the key events that led to the higher cognitive functions that distinguish us from other species.
The role of the astrocyte is to provide the perfect environment for neural transmission,said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-senior author of the study and director, along with Dr. Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., of the URMC Center for Translational Neuromedicine.
As the same time, we’ve observed that as these cells have evolved in complexity, size, and diversity – as they have in humans – brain function becomes more and more complex.
February 11, 2013
Congratulations to NGP Graduate Student, Simantini Ghosh on winning a travel award to present her work at the 11th International Conference on Alzheimer's & Parkinson's Disease in Florence, Italy on March 6-10, 2013. Simi works in Dr. Kerry O'Banion's lab, studying the effects of sustained Interleukin 1 beta overexpression on Alzheimer's disease pathology in transgenic mice.
February 6, 2013
NGP Student, Anasuya Das, Wins Travel Award to ECVP
Congratulations to NGP Graduate Student, Anasuya Das on winning a travel award to present her work at the European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP) in Alghero, Italy on September 2-6, 2012. Anasuya works in Dr. Krystel Huxlin's lab in the Visual Training & Rehabilitation Lab. Her poster was entitled, Beyond blindsight: perceptual re-learning of visual motion discrimination in cortical blindness improves static orientation discrimination.
January 10, 2013
A new study out today in the journal Science turns two decades of understanding about how brain cells communicate on its head. The study demonstrates that the tripartite synapse – a model long accepted by the scientific community and one in which multiple cells collaborate to move signals in the central nervous system – does not exist in the adult brain.
Our findings demonstrate that the tripartite synaptic model is incorrect,said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., lead author of the study and co-director of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Center for Translational Neuromedicine.
This concept does not represent the process for transmitting signals between neurons in the brain beyond the developmental stage.
January 3, 2013
As if space travel was not already filled with enough dangers, a new study out today in the journal PLOS ONE shows that cosmic radiation – which would bombard astronauts on deep space missions to places like Mars – could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts,said M. Kerry O’Banion, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy and the senior author of the study.
The possibility that radiation exposure in space may give rise to health problems such as cancer has long been recognized. However, this study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.