Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system

New research overturns a long-standing paradigm about how axons grow during embryonic development. The findings of the study could help scientists replicate or control the way axons grow, which may be applicable for diseases that affect the nervous system, such as diabetes, as well as injuries that sever nerves.

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Brain stimulation restores memory during lapses, research shows

Electrical stimulation delivered when memory is predicted to fail can improve memory function in the human brain, a team of neuroscientists shows for the first time. That same stimulation generally becomes disruptive when electrical pulses arrive during periods of effective memory function.

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Discovering the basics of ‘active touch’

Working with genetically engineered mice — and especially their whiskers — researchers report they have identified a group of nerve cells in the skin responsible for what they call ‘active touch,’ a combination of motion and sensory feeling needed to navigate the external world. The discovery of this basic sensory mechanism advances the search for better ‘smart’ prosthetics for people, ones that provide more natural sensory feedback to the brain during use.

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Recognizing foreign accents helps brains process accented speech

Our brains process foreign-accented speech with better real-time accuracy if we can identify the accent we hear, according to a team of neurolinguists.

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Antibody helps detect protein implicated in Alzheimer’s, other diseases

Damaging tangles of the protein tau dot the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and boxer’s dementia. Now, a team of scientists has found a way to measure tau levels in the blood that accurately reflects levels of tau in the brain. The study, in mice and a small group of people, could be the first step towards a non-invasive test for tau.

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Why children struggle to cross busy streets safely

Children up to early teenagers lack the perceptual judgment and motor skills to safely cross a busy road consistently, new research concludes. Children placed in realistic, simulated environments were tested for their road-crossing abilities. Those from 6 to 12 years of age had trouble crossing the street, with accident rates as high as 8 percent with 6-year-olds.

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Closer look at brain circuits reveals important role of genetics

New clues to the wiring of the brain have now been uncovered by a team of researchers. They found that neurons in brain regions that store memory can form networks in the absence of synaptic activity.

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Why animals have evolved to favor one side of the brain

Most left-handers can rattle off a list of their eminent comrades-in-arms: Oprah Winfrey, Albert Einstein, and Barack Obama, just to name three, but they may want to add on cockatoos, ‘southpaw’ squirrels, and some house cats. But why do people and animals naturally favor one side over the other, and what does it teach us about the brain’s inner workings? Researchers explore these questions in a new article.

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