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Photo Post Thu, Dec. 12, 2013 115 notes

neurosciencestuff:

Study Raises Questions about Longstanding Forensic Identification Technique
Forensic experts have long used the shape of a person’s skull to make positive identifications of human remains. But those findings may now be called into question, since a new study from North Carolina State University shows that there is not enough variation in skull shapes to make a positive ID.
“In a lot of cases, murder victims or the victims of disasters are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and don’t have extensive dental records we can use to make a match,” says Dr. Ann Ross, a forensic expert and professor of anthropology at NC State who is senior author of a paper on the new study. “But those people may have been in car accidents or other incidents that led them to have their skulls X-rayed in emergency rooms or elsewhere. And those skull X-rays have often been used to make IDs. I’ve done it myself.
“But now we’ve tried to validate this technique, and our research shows that the shape of the skull isn’t enough to make a positive ID,” Ross says.
At issue is the “cranial vault outline,” not the “face” of the skull. The cranial vault outline is the profile of the skull when viewed from the side, running from just above the bridge of the nose to the point where the skull and neck meet.
For the study, the researchers surveyed 106 members of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Survey participants were asked to evaluate 14 antemortem X-rays and five postmortem X-rays. Participants were then asked to match the 5 postmortem X-rays with the appropriate antemortem X-ray, effectively establishing a positive ID.
But the researchers found that only 47 percent of the participants made accurate identifications on all five skulls. Participants who have Ph.D.s did slightly better, with 56 percent of them getting all five correct. (The test has been made available here so that anyone can take it.)
“This doesn’t mean that cranial vault outlines aren’t useful,” says Ashley Maxwell, lead author of the paper and a former graduate student at NC State. “For example, outlines can be valuable if teeth or other features are missing or have been destroyed. But it does mean that cranial vault outlines shouldn’t be given too much weight.
“The more characteristics we can take into account, such as facial features and cranial vault outlines, the more accurate we can be,” Maxwell says.

neurosciencestuff:

Study Raises Questions about Longstanding Forensic Identification Technique

Forensic experts have long used the shape of a person’s skull to make positive identifications of human remains. But those findings may now be called into question, since a new study from North Carolina State University shows that there is not enough variation in skull shapes to make a positive ID.

“In a lot of cases, murder victims or the victims of disasters are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and don’t have extensive dental records we can use to make a match,” says Dr. Ann Ross, a forensic expert and professor of anthropology at NC State who is senior author of a paper on the new study. “But those people may have been in car accidents or other incidents that led them to have their skulls X-rayed in emergency rooms or elsewhere. And those skull X-rays have often been used to make IDs. I’ve done it myself.

“But now we’ve tried to validate this technique, and our research shows that the shape of the skull isn’t enough to make a positive ID,” Ross says.

At issue is the “cranial vault outline,” not the “face” of the skull. The cranial vault outline is the profile of the skull when viewed from the side, running from just above the bridge of the nose to the point where the skull and neck meet.

For the study, the researchers surveyed 106 members of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Survey participants were asked to evaluate 14 antemortem X-rays and five postmortem X-rays. Participants were then asked to match the 5 postmortem X-rays with the appropriate antemortem X-ray, effectively establishing a positive ID.

But the researchers found that only 47 percent of the participants made accurate identifications on all five skulls. Participants who have Ph.D.s did slightly better, with 56 percent of them getting all five correct. (The test has been made available here so that anyone can take it.)

“This doesn’t mean that cranial vault outlines aren’t useful,” says Ashley Maxwell, lead author of the paper and a former graduate student at NC State. “For example, outlines can be valuable if teeth or other features are missing or have been destroyed. But it does mean that cranial vault outlines shouldn’t be given too much weight.

“The more characteristics we can take into account, such as facial features and cranial vault outlines, the more accurate we can be,” Maxwell says.




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Photo Post Wed, May. 22, 2013 94 notes

neurosciencestuff:

Drugs found to both prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease in mice
Researchers at USC have found that a class of pharmaceuticals can both prevent and treat Alzheimer’s Disease in mice.
The drugs, known as “TSPO ligands,” are currently used for certain types of neuroimaging.
“We looked at the effects of TSPO ligand in young adult mice when pathology was at an early stage, and in aged mice when pathology was quite severe,” said lead researcher Christian Pike of the USC Davis School of Gerontology. “TSPO ligand reduced measures of pathology and improved behavior at both ages.”
The team’s findings were published online by the Journal of Neuroscience on May 15. Pike’s coauthors include USC postdoctoral scientists Anna M. Barron, Anusha Jayaraman and Joo-Won Lee; as well as Donatella Caruso and Roberto C. Melcangi of the University of Milan and Luis M. Garcia-Segura of the Instituto Cajal in Spain.
The most surprising finding for Pike and his team was the effect of TSPO ligand in the aged mice. Four treatments—once per week over four weeks—in older mice resulted in a significant decrease of Alzheimer’s-related symptoms and improvements in memory – meaning that TSPO ligands may actually reverse some elements of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our data suggests the possibility of drugs that can prevent and treat Alzheimer’s,” Pike said. “It’s just mouse data, but extremely encouraging mouse data. There is a strong possibility that TSPO ligands similar to the ones used in our study could be evaluated for therapeutic efficacy in Alzheimer’s patients within the next few years.”
Next, the team will next focus on understanding how TSPO ligands reduce Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Building on the established knowledge that TSPO ligands can reduce inflammation—shielding nerve cells from injury and increasing the production of neuroactive hormones in the brain—the team will study which of these actions is the most significant in fighting Alzheimer’s disease so they can develop newer TSPO ligands accordingly.

neurosciencestuff:

Drugs found to both prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease in mice

Researchers at USC have found that a class of pharmaceuticals can both prevent and treat Alzheimer’s Disease in mice.

The drugs, known as “TSPO ligands,” are currently used for certain types of neuroimaging.

“We looked at the effects of TSPO ligand in young adult mice when pathology was at an early stage, and in aged mice when pathology was quite severe,” said lead researcher Christian Pike of the USC Davis School of Gerontology. “TSPO ligand reduced measures of pathology and improved behavior at both ages.”

The team’s findings were published online by the Journal of Neuroscience on May 15. Pike’s coauthors include USC postdoctoral scientists Anna M. Barron, Anusha Jayaraman and Joo-Won Lee; as well as Donatella Caruso and Roberto C. Melcangi of the University of Milan and Luis M. Garcia-Segura of the Instituto Cajal in Spain.

The most surprising finding for Pike and his team was the effect of TSPO ligand in the aged mice. Four treatments—once per week over four weeks—in older mice resulted in a significant decrease of Alzheimer’s-related symptoms and improvements in memory – meaning that TSPO ligands may actually reverse some elements of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our data suggests the possibility of drugs that can prevent and treat Alzheimer’s,” Pike said. “It’s just mouse data, but extremely encouraging mouse data. There is a strong possibility that TSPO ligands similar to the ones used in our study could be evaluated for therapeutic efficacy in Alzheimer’s patients within the next few years.”

Next, the team will next focus on understanding how TSPO ligands reduce Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Building on the established knowledge that TSPO ligands can reduce inflammation—shielding nerve cells from injury and increasing the production of neuroactive hormones in the brain—the team will study which of these actions is the most significant in fighting Alzheimer’s disease so they can develop newer TSPO ligands accordingly.




Photo Post Fri, May. 17, 2013 97 notes

neurosciencestuff:

Gene Involved in Neurodegeneration Keeps Clock Running
Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.
In a study of the common fruit fly, the researchers found the gene, called Ataxin-2, keeps the clock responsible for sleeping and waking on a 24-hour rhythm. Without the gene, the rhythm of the fruit fly’s sleep-wake cycle is disturbed, making waking up on a regular schedule difficult for the fly.
The discovery is particularly interesting because mutations in the human Ataxin-2 gene are known to cause a rare disorder called spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) and also contribute to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. People with SCA suffer from sleep abnormalities before other symptoms of the disease appear.
This study linking the Ataxin-2 gene with abnormalities in the sleep-wake cycle could help pinpoint what is causing these neurodegenerative diseases as well as provide a deeper understanding of the human sleep-wake cycle.
The findings will be published May 17 in the journal Science. Ravi Allada, M.D., professor of neurobiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and Chunghun Lim, a postdoctoral fellow in his lab, are authors of the paper.
Period (per) is a well-studied gene in fruit flies that encodes a protein, called PER, which regulates circadian rhythm. Allada and Lim discovered that Ataxin-2 helps activate translation of PER RNA into PER protein, a key step in making the circadian clock run properly.
“It’s possible that Ataxin-2’s function as an activator of protein translation may be central to understanding how, when you mutate the gene and disrupt its function, it may be causing or contributing to diseases such as ALS or spinocerebellar ataxia,” Allada said.
The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a model organism for scientists studying the sleep-wake cycle because the fly’s genes are highly conserved with the genes of humans.
“I like to say that flies sleep similarly to humans, except flies don’t use pillows,” said Allada, who also is associate director for Northwestern’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology. The biological timing mechanism for all animals comes from a common ancestor hundreds of millions of years ago.
Ataxin-2 is the second gene in a little more than two years that Northwestern researchers have identified as a core gear of the circadian clock, and the two genes play similar roles.
Allada, Lim and colleagues in 2011 reported their discovery of a gene, which they dubbed “twenty-four,” that plays a role in translating the PER protein, keeping the sleep-wake cycle on a 24-hour rhythm.
Allada and Lim wanted to better understand how twenty-four works, so they looked at proteins that associate with twenty-four. They found the twenty-four protein sticking to ATAXIN-2 and decided to investigate further. In their experiments, reported in Science, Allada and Lim discovered the Ataxin-2 and twenty-four genes appear to be partners in PER protein translation.
“We’ve really started to define a pathway that regulates the circadian clock and seems to be especially important in a specific group of neurons that governs the fly’s morning wake-up,” Allada said. “We saw that the molecular and behavioral consequences of losing Ataxin-2 are nearly the same as losing twenty-four.”
As is the case in a mutation of the twenty-four gene, when the Ataxin-2 gene is not present, very little PER protein is found in the circadian pacemaker neurons of the brain, and the fly’s sleep-wake rhythm is disturbed.

neurosciencestuff:

Gene Involved in Neurodegeneration Keeps Clock Running

Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.

In a study of the common fruit fly, the researchers found the gene, called Ataxin-2, keeps the clock responsible for sleeping and waking on a 24-hour rhythm. Without the gene, the rhythm of the fruit fly’s sleep-wake cycle is disturbed, making waking up on a regular schedule difficult for the fly.

The discovery is particularly interesting because mutations in the human Ataxin-2 gene are known to cause a rare disorder called spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) and also contribute to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. People with SCA suffer from sleep abnormalities before other symptoms of the disease appear.

This study linking the Ataxin-2 gene with abnormalities in the sleep-wake cycle could help pinpoint what is causing these neurodegenerative diseases as well as provide a deeper understanding of the human sleep-wake cycle.

The findings will be published May 17 in the journal Science. Ravi Allada, M.D., professor of neurobiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and Chunghun Lim, a postdoctoral fellow in his lab, are authors of the paper.

Period (per) is a well-studied gene in fruit flies that encodes a protein, called PER, which regulates circadian rhythm. Allada and Lim discovered that Ataxin-2 helps activate translation of PER RNA into PER protein, a key step in making the circadian clock run properly.

“It’s possible that Ataxin-2’s function as an activator of protein translation may be central to understanding how, when you mutate the gene and disrupt its function, it may be causing or contributing to diseases such as ALS or spinocerebellar ataxia,” Allada said.

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a model organism for scientists studying the sleep-wake cycle because the fly’s genes are highly conserved with the genes of humans.

“I like to say that flies sleep similarly to humans, except flies don’t use pillows,” said Allada, who also is associate director for Northwestern’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology. The biological timing mechanism for all animals comes from a common ancestor hundreds of millions of years ago.

Ataxin-2 is the second gene in a little more than two years that Northwestern researchers have identified as a core gear of the circadian clock, and the two genes play similar roles.

Allada, Lim and colleagues in 2011 reported their discovery of a gene, which they dubbed “twenty-four,” that plays a role in translating the PER protein, keeping the sleep-wake cycle on a 24-hour rhythm.

Allada and Lim wanted to better understand how twenty-four works, so they looked at proteins that associate with twenty-four. They found the twenty-four protein sticking to ATAXIN-2 and decided to investigate further. In their experiments, reported in Science, Allada and Lim discovered the Ataxin-2 and twenty-four genes appear to be partners in PER protein translation.

“We’ve really started to define a pathway that regulates the circadian clock and seems to be especially important in a specific group of neurons that governs the fly’s morning wake-up,” Allada said. “We saw that the molecular and behavioral consequences of losing Ataxin-2 are nearly the same as losing twenty-four.”

As is the case in a mutation of the twenty-four gene, when the Ataxin-2 gene is not present, very little PER protein is found in the circadian pacemaker neurons of the brain, and the fly’s sleep-wake rhythm is disturbed.




Photo Post Fri, May. 17, 2013 52 notes

mothernaturenetwork:

The tricky art of saving wild species
Which species do we save and why?

mothernaturenetwork:

The tricky art of saving wild species

Which species do we save and why?




Photo Post Fri, May. 17, 2013 391 notes

always-an-equestrian:

Boyd Martin & Neville Bardos 

always-an-equestrian:

Boyd Martin & Neville Bardos 

(Source: useventing.com, via horsesornothing)




Photo Post Fri, May. 17, 2013 118 notes

mothernaturenetwork:

Happy Endangered Species Day!
In honor of Earth’s less fortunate flora and fauna, this collection of awe-inspiring photos illustrates endangered wildlife from all over the planet.

mothernaturenetwork:

Happy Endangered Species Day!

In honor of Earth’s less fortunate flora and fauna, this collection of awe-inspiring photos illustrates endangered wildlife from all over the planet.




Photo Post Fri, May. 17, 2013 91 notes

neurosciencestuff:

Brain Makes Call on Which Ear Is Used for Cell Phone
If you’re a left-brain thinker, chances are you use your right hand to hold your cell phone up to your right ear, according to a newly published study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
The study – to appear online in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery – shows a strong correlation between brain dominance and the ear used to listen to a cell phone. More than 70% of participants held their cell phone up to the ear on the same side as their dominant hand, the study finds.
Left-brain dominant people – who account for about 95% of the population and have their speech and language center located on the left side of the brain – are more likely to use their right hand for writing and other everyday tasks.
Likewise, the Henry Ford study reveals most left-brain dominant people also use the phone in their right ear, despite there being no perceived difference in their hearing in the left or right ear. And, right-brain dominant people are more likely to use their left hand to hold the phone in their left ear.
“Our findings have several implications, especially for mapping the language center of the brain,” says Michael Seidman, M.D., FACS, director of the division of otologic and neurotologic surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford.
“By establishing a correlation between cerebral dominance and sidedness of cell phone use, it may be possible to develop a less-invasive, lower-cost option to establish the side of the brain where speech and language occurs rather than the Wada test, a procedure that injects an anesthetic into the carotid artery to put part of the brain to sleep in order to map activity.”
He notes that the study also may offer additional evidence that cell phone use and tumors of the brain, head and neck may not necessarily be linked.
Since nearly 80% of people use the cell phone in their right ear, he says if there were a strong connection there would be far more people diagnosed with cancer on the right side of their brain, head and neck, the dominant side for cell phone use. It’s likely, he says, that the development of tumors is more “dose-dependent” based on cell phone usage.
The study began with the simple observation that most people use their right hand to hold a cell phone to their right ear. This practice, Dr. Seidman says, is illogical since it is challenging to listen on the phone with the right ear and take notes with the right hand.
To determine if there is an association between sidedness of cell phone use and auditory or language hemispheric dominance, the Henry Ford team developed an online survey using modifications of the Edinburgh Handedness protocol, a tool used for more than 40 years to assess handedness and predict cerebral dominance.
The survey included questions about which hand was used for tasks such as writing; time spent talking on cell phone; whether the right or left ear is used to listen to phone conversations; and if respondents had been diagnosed with a brain or head and neck tumor.
It was distributed to 5,000 individuals who were either with an otology online group or a patient undergoing Wada and MRI for non-invasive localization purposes.
On average, respondents’ cell phone usage was 540 minutes per month. The majority of respondents (90%) were right handed, 9% were left handed and 1% was ambidextrous.
Among those who are right handed, 68% reported that they hold the phone to their right ear, while 25% used the left ear and 7% used both right and left ears. For those who are left handed, 72% said they used their left ear for cell phone conversations, while 23% used their right ear and 5% had no preference.
The study also revealed that having a hearing difference can impact ear preference for cell phone use.
In all, the study found that there is a correlation between brain dominance and laterality of cell phone use, and there is a significantly higher probability of using the dominant hand side ear.
Studies are underway to look at tumor registry banks of patients with head, neck and brain cancer to evaluate cell phone usage. Controversy still exists around a potential association of cell phone use and tumors. Until this is fully understood, Dr. Seidman advises using hands-free modes for calls rather than holding a phone up to the side of the head.
(Original publication: “Study Examines Relationship Between Hemispheric Dominance and Cell Phone Use” JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, 2013; Michael D. Seidman et al.)

neurosciencestuff:

Brain Makes Call on Which Ear Is Used for Cell Phone

If you’re a left-brain thinker, chances are you use your right hand to hold your cell phone up to your right ear, according to a newly published study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

The study – to appear online in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery – shows a strong correlation between brain dominance and the ear used to listen to a cell phone. More than 70% of participants held their cell phone up to the ear on the same side as their dominant hand, the study finds.

Left-brain dominant people – who account for about 95% of the population and have their speech and language center located on the left side of the brain – are more likely to use their right hand for writing and other everyday tasks.

Likewise, the Henry Ford study reveals most left-brain dominant people also use the phone in their right ear, despite there being no perceived difference in their hearing in the left or right ear. And, right-brain dominant people are more likely to use their left hand to hold the phone in their left ear.

“Our findings have several implications, especially for mapping the language center of the brain,” says Michael Seidman, M.D., FACS, director of the division of otologic and neurotologic surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford.

“By establishing a correlation between cerebral dominance and sidedness of cell phone use, it may be possible to develop a less-invasive, lower-cost option to establish the side of the brain where speech and language occurs rather than the Wada test, a procedure that injects an anesthetic into the carotid artery to put part of the brain to sleep in order to map activity.”

He notes that the study also may offer additional evidence that cell phone use and tumors of the brain, head and neck may not necessarily be linked.

Since nearly 80% of people use the cell phone in their right ear, he says if there were a strong connection there would be far more people diagnosed with cancer on the right side of their brain, head and neck, the dominant side for cell phone use. It’s likely, he says, that the development of tumors is more “dose-dependent” based on cell phone usage.

The study began with the simple observation that most people use their right hand to hold a cell phone to their right ear. This practice, Dr. Seidman says, is illogical since it is challenging to listen on the phone with the right ear and take notes with the right hand.

To determine if there is an association between sidedness of cell phone use and auditory or language hemispheric dominance, the Henry Ford team developed an online survey using modifications of the Edinburgh Handedness protocol, a tool used for more than 40 years to assess handedness and predict cerebral dominance.

The survey included questions about which hand was used for tasks such as writing; time spent talking on cell phone; whether the right or left ear is used to listen to phone conversations; and if respondents had been diagnosed with a brain or head and neck tumor.

It was distributed to 5,000 individuals who were either with an otology online group or a patient undergoing Wada and MRI for non-invasive localization purposes.

On average, respondents’ cell phone usage was 540 minutes per month. The majority of respondents (90%) were right handed, 9% were left handed and 1% was ambidextrous.

Among those who are right handed, 68% reported that they hold the phone to their right ear, while 25% used the left ear and 7% used both right and left ears. For those who are left handed, 72% said they used their left ear for cell phone conversations, while 23% used their right ear and 5% had no preference.

The study also revealed that having a hearing difference can impact ear preference for cell phone use.

In all, the study found that there is a correlation between brain dominance and laterality of cell phone use, and there is a significantly higher probability of using the dominant hand side ear.

Studies are underway to look at tumor registry banks of patients with head, neck and brain cancer to evaluate cell phone usage. Controversy still exists around a potential association of cell phone use and tumors. Until this is fully understood, Dr. Seidman advises using hands-free modes for calls rather than holding a phone up to the side of the head.

(Original publication: “Study Examines Relationship Between Hemispheric Dominance and Cell Phone Use” JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, 2013; Michael D. Seidman et al.)



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