Neurology / Neuroscience News

Compared To Neanderthals, Modern Humans Have A Better Sense Of Smell

Differences in the temporal lobes and olfactory bulbs also suggest a combined use of brain functions related to cognition and olfaction.

The increase of brain size is intimately linked to the evolution of humanity. Two different human species, Neanderthals and modern humans, have independently evolved brains of roughly the same size but with differing shapes. This could indicate a difference in the underlying brain organization.

How The Brain Cell Works: A Dive Into Its Inner Network

University of Miami biology professor Akira Chiba is leading a multidisciplinary team to develop the first systematic survey of protein interactions within brain cells. The team is aiming to reconstruct genome-wide in situ protein-protein interaction networks (isPIN) within the neurons of a multicellular organism. Preliminary data were presented at the American Society for Cell Biology annual meeting, December 3 through 7, 2011, in Denver, Colorado.

"This work brings us closer to understanding the mechanics of molecules that keep us functioning," says Chiba, principal investigator of this project. "Knowing how our cells work will improve medicine. Most importantly, we will gain a better understanding of what life is at the molecular level."

Habit Formation Is Enabled By Gateway To Brain Cells

A brain cell type found where habits are formed and movement is controlled has receptors that work like computer processors to translate regular activities into habits, researchers report.

"Habits, for better or worse, basically define who we are," said Dr. Joe Z. Tsien, Co-Director of the Brain & Behavior Discovery Institute at Georgia Health Sciences University. Habits also provide mental freedom and flexibility by enabling many activities to be on autopilot while the brain focuses on more urgent matters, he said.


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