November 23, 2017

Week In STEM-24th Oct

Credit: Benedict Campbell, Wellcome Images/CC

Study reveals how brain multitasks

Researchers report that they have added to evidence that a shell-shaped region in the center of the mammalian brain, known as the thalamic reticular nucleus or TRN, is likely responsible for the ability to routinely and seamlessly multitask.

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New mathematical method reveals structure in neural activity in the brain

A newly-developed mathematical method can detect geometric structure in neural activity in the brain. “Previously, in order to understand this structure, scientists needed to relate neural activity to some specific external stimulus,” said Vladimir Itskov, associate professor of mathematics at Penn State University. “Our method is the first to be able to reveal this structure without our knowing an external stimulus ahead of time. We’ve now shown that our new method will allow us to explore the organizational structure of neurons without knowing their function in advance.”

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Brain’s activity map makes stable ‘fingerprint’

Neuroscientists have found that they can identify individuals based on a coarse map of which brain regions “pair up” in scans of brain activity.

The map is stable enough that the researchers could pick one person’s pattern from a set of 126, by matching it to a scan taken on another day.

This was possible even if the person was “at rest” during one scan, and busy doing a task in the other.

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KNUST Student Wins a Schlumberger Global Award

Miss Joaness Frimpong, a student of the Department of Petroleum Engineering of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), who was an intern at the Schlumberger, has won the Schlumberger Award for the Intern Video Competition 2015.

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Drug company reveals $1 pill after Turing jacks prices 5,000%

The company that hiked the price of its AIDS and cancer drug by 5,000 percent is facing something that could be even more damaging than public backlash: a competitor with an alternative drug that costs only $1 per pill.

The new drug by Imprimis Pharmaceuticals has been dubbed an alternative to Daraprim, which is currently produced by Turing Pharmaceuticals and recently saw its price hiked to $750 per pill – a 5,000 percent increase from its original price of $13.50. The company has faced severe backlash over the move.

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Stressed dads affect offspring brain development through altered sperm

Researchers have shown at the molecular level how experiencing stress changes a male mouse’s sperm in such a way that it affects his offspring’s response to stress. This change is imparted epigenetically, or through a means other than the DNA code, by molecules called microRNAs, or miRs.

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 New crystal captures carbon from the air

A new material with micropores might be a way to fight climate change. Scientists have created crystals that capture carbon dioxide much more efficiently than previously known materials, even in the presence of water.

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In unexpected discovery, comet contains alcohol, sugar

Comet Lovejoy lived up to its name by releasing large amounts of alcohol as well as a type of sugar into space, according to new observations by an international team. The discovery marks the first time ethyl alcohol, the same type in alcoholic beverages, has been observed in a comet. The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life.

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MRI shows heart ages differently in women than in men

The main pumping chamber of the heart ages differently in men and women, according to a MRI study. Researchers said the findings may support different treatment approaches for men and women with heart disease.

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Old rat brains rejuvenated and new neurons grown by asthma drug

It’s as good as new. An asthma drug has rejuvenated rat brains, making old rats perform as well as young rats in tests of memory and cognition. The drug also encouraged the birth of new brain cells.

As we get older, most of us will experience some kind of brain degeneration. Typically, we lose the ability to make new neurons. Another problem is chronic, low-grade inflammation in the brain, which is implicated in many age-related brain disorders.

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