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Altering songbird brain signaling provides insight into human behavior

A study from UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute demonstrates that a bird’s song can be altered – to the syllable – by activating and deactivating a neuronal pathway responsible for helping the brain determine whether a vocalization is performed correctly. Previous research has shown that when a song is performed without perceived error, certain neurons release dopamine to brain areas involved in motor control. The new study shows that by activating and suppressing these neurons, scientists can prompt the birds to change specific syllables in future performances.

Polygenic Risk Score May Identify Alzheimer’s Risk in Younger Populations

Early identification may lead to early, more effective treatment

For the first time, an international team of scientists, led by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, have determined that an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) polygenic risk score can be used to correctly identify adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who were only in their 50s. MCI is considered a precursor to AD.

Meet the Tiny Machine in Cells that Massacres Viruses

When viruses infect the body’s cells, those cells face a difficult problem. How can they destroy viruses without harming themselves? Scientists at University of Utah Health have found an answer by visualizing a tiny cellular machine that chops the viruses’ genetic material into bits. Their research shows how the machine detects the intruders and processes them for destruction to protect cells and prevent the spread of infection.

Which came first: complex life or high atmospheric oxygen?

We and all other animals wouldn’t be here today if our planet didn’t have a lot of oxygen in its atmosphere and oceans. But how crucial were high oxygen levels to the transition from simple, single-celled life forms to the complexity we see today?We and all other animals wouldn’t be here today if our planet didn’t have a lot of oxygen in its atmosphere and oceans. But how crucial were high oxygen levels to the transition from simple, single-celled life forms to the complexity we see today?

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