Tag Archives: Neurons

Science: Accupuncture’s Inflammation Effect, Antibiotics & Gut Bacteria

The neurons behind acupuncture’s effect on inflammation, and how antibiotics affect gut bacteria.

In this episode:

00:54 The neuronal basis for acupuncture’s effect on inflammation

In mice, electroacupuncture has been shown to reduce inflammation, but only when certain points on the body are stimulated. Why this is has puzzled scientists, but now, researchers have identified the specific neurons that are involved. They hope that this knowledge could be used in future to help treat certain inflammatory-related diseases.

Research article: Liu et al.

News and Views: Electroacupuncture activates neurons to switch off inflammation

07:28 Research Highlights

The Aztec origins of an obsidian ‘spirit mirror’, and the damage done by a Soviet plutonium complex.

Research Highlight: A ‘spirit mirror’ used in Elizabeth I’s court had Aztec roots

Research Highlight: Cold-war spy pictures reveal a Soviet nuclear ‘cloud generator’

10:18 Assessing antibiotics’ collateral damage.

Antibiotics are known to cause damage to the communities of bacteria that live in our guts. To better understand why this happens, a team has mapped the effects that different antibiotics have on individual gut-bacteria species, which may offer new insights into preventing this collateral damage.

Research article: Maier et al.

17:32 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the latest species to be declared extinct in the US, and a potential planet that orbits three stars.

New York Times: Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions

New York Times: This May Be the First Planet Found Orbiting 3 Stars at Once

Science Of The Brain: What Is Interoception? (Scripps)

Your brain is keenly aware of what’s going on inside your body at all times. Some things are obvious – like when you feel hungry or thirsty. But some things you never notice – like how blood vessels all over your body simultaneously contract as you stand up, so you don’t lose blood flow to your brain. But how does your brain know when to send the signal to squeeze? It’s all part of concept scientists call interoception – the dialogue between your brain and the rest of your body.

Interoception is involved in everything from keeping us balanced while we walk, to keeping our blood pressure and heart rate steady. It even appears to influence our moods and emotions. And thanks to recent discoveries, we’re learning more about how interoception works. Researchers identified two special channels in neurons that react to touch and named them PIEZO1 and PIEZO2. Since first identifying these pressure sensors, researchers have found PIEZOs in internal organs like the heart, lungs, and blood vessels lining the stomach… suggesting many physiological functions involve mechanical forces that our brain and other parts of our nervous system must monitor and influence. As the study of interoception grows, scientists are hopeful the field could lead to breakthroughs in treating heart disease, controlling blood pressure, relieving anxiety and depression, and treating a number of other disorders. Learn more about Scripps Research at scripps.edu.

Science: Avoiding Sudden Food Scarcity, Lattice Strength, Time Neurons

Addressing the problem of sudden food scarcity in US cities, and the up-and-coming field of computational social science.

In this episode:

00:45 Food shocks

Climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and geopolitical crises can cause food shortages. To tackle this issue, Alfonso Mejia and colleagues have modelled how to best mitigate these food shocks in US cities. Alfonso tells us about the new analyses and what steps cities could take in the future.

Research Article: Gomez et al.

News and Views: How to buffer against an urban food shortage

06:07 Research Highlights

A tiny lattice can withstand the impacts of projectiles at twice the speed of sound, and the neurons that allow humans to perceive time.

Research Highlight: Supersonic strikes leave just a dent in this super-light material

Research Highlight: The ‘time neurons’ that help the brain keep track

08:25 Computational Social Science

Big data is transforming research, and social science is no exception. This week, Nature is running a special issue on ‘computational social science’. We catch up with some of the editors involved to find out more about this up-and-coming field.

Collections: Computational Social Science

19:27 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, discovering the dazzling diversity of viruses, and how China eradicated malaria.

Nature News Feature: Beyond coronavirus: the virus discoveries transforming biology

Science: It’s official: China has eliminated malaria

Health Infographics: How Exercise Creates “New Neurons In Aging Brains”

New Neurons in Aging Brains Scientific American January 2020 Tami Tolpa

Scientific American logo

Researchers have also documented clear links between aerobic exercise and benefits to other parts of the brain, including expansion of the prefrontal cortex, which sits just behind the forehead. Such augmentation of this region has been tied to sharper executive cognitive functions, which involve aspects of planning, decision-making and multitasking—abilities that, like memory, tend to decline with healthy aging and are further degraded in the presence of Alzheimer’s. Scientists suspect that increased connections between existing neurons, rather than the birth of new neurons, are responsible for the beneficial effects of exercise on the prefrontal cortex and other brain regions outside the hippocampus.

Scientific American article