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Epigenetics research opens potential door to prevent neurodevelopmental disorders

Sai Ma, for­mer Vir­ginia Tech bio­med­ical engi­neer­ing Ph.D. stu­dent, and Chang Lu, the Fred W. Bull pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at Vir­ginia Tech. Cred­it: Vir­ginia Tech

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Epi­ge­net­ic Changes Guide Devel­op­ment of Dif­fer­ent Brain Regions (Dana Foun­da­tion):

It’s one of the great­est stand­ing mys­ter­ies in neu­ro­science: Giv­en that each cell in the human body con­tains the same DNA, how, exact­ly, does the brain devel­op into dis­tinct func­tion­al regions, sup­port­ed by dif­fer­ent cell types? And how might that devel­op­men­tal pro­gram go awry, result­ing in neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal dis­or­ders like schiz­o­phre­nia or autism? The answers may be the epigenome Read the rest of this entry »

Understand your connectome, understand yourself

connectome—–

NO ROAD, NO trail can pen­e­trate this for­est. The long and del­i­cate branch­es of its trees lie every­where, chok­ing space with their exu­ber­ant growth. No sun­beam can fly a path tor­tu­ous enough to nav­i­gate the nar­row spaces between these entan­gled branch­es. All the trees of this dark for­est grew from 100 bil­lion seeds plant­ed togeth­er. And, all in one day, every tree is des­tined to die.

This for­est is majes­tic, but also com­ic and even trag­ic. It is all of these things. Indeed, some­times I think it is every­thing. Every nov­el and every sym­pho­ny, every cru­el mur­der and every act of mer­cy, every love affair and every quar­rel, every joke and every sor­row — all these things come from the for­est. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa (Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation): “You’re not a prisoner of your DNA”

Dhar­ma Singh Khal­sa, M.D.

What is your cur­rent job title and orga­ni­za­tion, and what excites you the most about work­ing there?
As the Found­ing Pres­i­dent and Med­ical Direc­tor at the Alzheimer’s Research and Pre­ven­tion Foun­da­tion for over 20 years, I am more excit­ed than ever about the pos­si­bil­i­ties for enhanced men­tal per­for­mance and brain longevi­ty for every­one. Read the rest of this entry »

To Be (Your Connectome), or Not to Be (Your Genome)

NO ROAD, NO trail can pen­e­trate this for­est. The long and del­i­cate branch­es of its trees lie every­where, chok­ing space with their exu­ber­ant growth. No sun­beam can fly a path tor­tu­ous enough to nav­i­gate the nar­row spaces between these entan­gled branch­es. All the trees of this dark for­est grew from 100 bil­lion seeds plant­ed togeth­er. And, all in one day, every tree is des­tined to die.

This for­est is majes­tic, but also com­ic and even trag­ic. It is all of these things. Indeed, some­times I think it is every­thing. Every nov­el and every sym­pho­ny, every cru­el mur­der and every act of mer­cy, every love affair and every quar­rel, every joke and every sor­row — all these things come from the for­est. Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: The Human Brain Likes to Be in Balance

(Editor’s note: below you have part 5 of the 6‑part The Neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy of Stress series. If you are join­ing the series now, you can read the pre­vi­ous part Here.)

Stayin’ Alive

Under­stand­ing the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

The Human Brain Likes to Be in Bal­ance

For­tu­nate­ly, the brain has some built — in safe­ty sys­tems. Too much cor­ti­sol in the blood sig­nals the brain and adren­al glands to decrease cor­ti­sol pro­duc­tion. And under nor­mal con­di­tions, when the stress is over­come or brought under con­trol (by fight­ing, flee­ing, or turn­ing into an immo­bile stat­ue, or by mas­ter­ing the threat), the hypo­thal­a­mus starts send­ing out the orders to stand down. Stop pro­duc­ing cor­ti­sol!  Event over!  Under con­tin­u­ous stress, how­ev­er, this feed­back sys­tem breaks down. The hypo­thal­a­mus keeps read­ing the stress as a threat, furtive­ly send­ing mes­sages to the pitu­itary gland, which screams out to the adren­al glands to keep pump­ing out cor­ti­sol, which at this point begins to be neu­ro­tox­ic — poi­son to the brain. Read the rest of this entry »

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