March 2017 – Research News

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Did You Know Your Synapses Shrink During Sleep?

A new study shows that our neural connections shrink—by 18-20% when compared to waking time. Some researchers say that neurons need time to “downscale”  as a part of ‘smart forgetting’ or prepare for a new day of learning. This may the primary purposes of sleep.

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Biological Markers Found for Kinds of Depression

Depression can be very different from one person to another: some gain weight others lose weight. Some sleep too much; others can’t sleep. Some feel anxious; others can’t sit still. Conor Liston, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medicine said “The fact that we lump people together like this has been a big obstacle in understanding the neurobiology of depression.”

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There’s Help if You Fear Spiders?

Researchers at the State University of New York discovered that brief images of spiders when people aren’t consciously aware of the images may help to reduce the fear.  Paul Siegel said “…the brain is better able to

process feared stimuli when presented without conscious awareness.”

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 Planning for a Spaceflight – Info You Need to Know

Spaceflight causes anatomical changes in the brains of astronauts;
some brain areas increase in size, other areas decrease in size. (Source:
Koppelmans, et al., Brain structural plasticity with spaceflight, NPJ
Microgravity, 2 (2016), doi:10.1038/s41526-016-0001-9

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 Are There Any Safe Levels of Polluted Air?

Find out what the researchers are saying about pollution.

When all the research is in, Caleb Finch, USC neuroscientist says, “I think [air pollution] will turn out to be just the same as tobacco—there’s no safe threshold.”

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 Why Do Americans Refrigerate Their Eggs?

When we come home, Americans immediately store our eggs in the refrigerator while people in Europe and some parts of Asia keep them on the kitchen table.  Find out why we do this.

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