Using a special mix of small molecules, two groups of scientists in China have successfully turned human skin cells into neurons. They hope that their technique could one day help rejuvenate failing tissues in the brains of Alzheimers patients.
It’s interesting that a mice and human trial were done seemingly in parallel. It’s apparently cheap, easy, and minimal if any rejection risk. But we’re a ways from being able to leverage this into something useful.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes us remember things. When you see an image, what makes you decide you’ve seen it before? A new study has tackled this question, identifying a group of neurons that participate in the process of identifying images as familiar.
A simple injection is now all it takes to wire up a brain. A diverse team of physicists, neuroscientists and chemists has implanted mouse brains with a rolled-up, silky mesh studded with tiny electronic devices, and shown that it unfurls to spy on and stimulate individual neurons.
The implant has the potential to unravel the workings of the mammalian brain in unprecedented detail. “I think it’s great, a very creative new approach to the problem of recording from large number of neurons in the brain,” says Rafael Yuste, director of the Neurotechnology Center at Columbia University in New York, who was not involved in the work.
When you consider the tongue, what leaps to mind are the five canonical tastes – sweet, salt, bitter, sour, and umami. These sensations arise when receptors on the surface of taste bud cells are activated by your food, triggering nerve fibres that run to your brain and help generate the experience of a savoury roast or a fresh strawberry. But your tongue is more versatile than that. It’s also sensitive to temperature, pressure, and chemicals that mimic both of these things, which turn up in a number of foods. This peculiar latter group of sensations is called chemesthesis, and you probably experience some flavour of it every day.