Insomnia medication may wake up some patients from vegetative state

A systematic review of zolpidem for noninsomnia neurological disorders, including movement disorders and disorders of consciousness, finds reason for additional research.

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New tool to identify and control neurons

One of the big challenges in the neuroscience field is to understand how connections and communications trigger our behavior. Researchers have now developed a tool to identify and control neurons. The new technique, called Calcium and Light-Induced Gene Handling Toolkit or ‘Cal-Light,’ allows researchers to observe and manipulate the neural activities underlying behavior with never-before-seen specificity, hopefully allowing researchers to identify causality between neuronal activity and behavior.

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Peering through opaque brains with new algorithm

A new algorithm helps scientists record the activity of individual neurons within a volume of brain tissue.

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Shining light on brain cells that coordinate movement

A technique for inserting a gene into specific cell types in the adult brain can be used to alter the function of brain circuits and change behaviors in an animal model. The method will allow scientists to better understand what roles certain cell types play in the brain’s complex circuitry. Researchers hope the approach might someday lead to developing treatments for conditions like epilepsy that might be curable by activating a small group of cells.

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The mere presence of your smartphone reduces brain power, study shows

Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach — even if it’s off — suggests new research.

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Chatter in the deep brain spurs empathy in rats

By combining electrical monitoring of neural activity with machine learning, a team of neuroscientists has tuned into the brain chatter of rats engaged in helping other rats. The results clarify earlier conflicting findings on the role of specific brain regions, such as the insula, in guiding antisocial and psychopathic behavior, and may shed light on how to encourage altruistic behavior in humans.

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Correct connections are crucial

Investigators have been examining the use of deep brain stimulation in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease in an attempt to optimize treatment effectiveness.

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A unique amino acid for brain cancer therapy

Photodynamic therapy is often used to treat brain tumors because of its specificity — it can target very small regions containing cancerous cells while sparing the normal cells around it from damage. It works by injecting a drug called a photosensitizer into the bloodstream, where it gathers in cells, and then exposing the drug-filled cells to light. When the photosensitizer is exposed to this light, it emits what is known as a reactive oxygen species (ROS) that causes the cells to die.

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