Newsletter

Summaries

Anesthesia's effect on consciousness solved, settling century-old scientific debate

medicalxpress.com
  • After 5 years of experiments, scientists may have found a pathway that is used for brain functions that are beyond consciousness.
  • It’s the result of studying how, exactly, anesthesia makes us unconscious, which scientists haven’t been able to explain for 175 years.
  • But, thanks to advancements in cell biology and microscope technology, a team of scientists was finally able to answer the longstanding riddle.
  • They were able to find that anesthesia works in a two-step process that starts with cell membrane lipids, and then moves further through cell membrane “gates”.
  • Verified in fruit flies, the finding is only a foundation - it will take a lot more work to fully understand this previously unknown mechanism.

Solution to century-old math problem could predict transmission of infectious diseases

phys.org
  • The math problem in question is the discrete diffusion equation in finite space.
  • Until now, defining the probability of encountering and transmitting a particle in a closed space required huge computer simulations (= lots of wasted time and energy).
  • The solution to the basic diffusion equation has been known for a long time, but nobody knew how to quickly solve it for, say, one particular day and place.
  • This will help scientists from many different fields, for example in predicting molecule diffusion in cells, the moves of bacteria in a petri dish, or animal movements.
  • It could even help predict how a virus moves between individuals in a crowd in a confined space.

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Me, myself, bye: regional alterations in glutamate and the experience of ego dissolution with psilocybin

nature.com
  • The way we react to psilocybin seems to be connected to the glutamate system (the neuronal fast-signaling system in our brain that uses the glutamate neurotransmitter).
  • Analysis of data collected from 48 participants (26 in the placebo group) links positive experiences of ego dissolution to low levels of glutamate in the hippocampus.
  • Negative ego dissolution and increased feelings of anxiety were linked to higher levels of glutamate in the mFPC (medial prefrontal cortex).
  • All of this means that psilocybin directly influences the glutamate system, and those changes correspond with changes in behaviour during the psychedelic state.
  • These findings go beyond our neuroscientific knowledge, but they still form a necessary foundation for future clinical trials of psilocybin’s therapeutic effects.

New and diverse experiences linked to enhanced happiness, new study shows

eurekalert.org
  • Study authors used GPS to track participants for up to 4 months, regularly texting them to ask about their positive and negative emotional states.
  • People who were the most active explorers also reported the most positive emotional states.
  • Later, some participants underwent MRI scans, and the results showed that the brain actively rewards us for experiencing new things and switching locations.
  • People feel happier when they experience different things and visit new places often, but it’s unclear whether people with less interesting experiences actually feel sadder.
  • What’s important, even small changes - exercising at home, walking around your neighborhood, choosing a different route to go shopping - can have a positive impact.

New Studies Find Birds Are Eating Hundreds of Plastic Bits Daily

thewestnews.com
  • Not just land and sea animals are eating plastic, studies show that birds near river banks are eating hundreds of plastic debris pieces every day.
  • Scientists say this clearly tells us that plastic in rivers is moving up the wildlife food chain very quickly.
  • Researchers looked at the dipper, a bird that dives into rivers and eats underwater insects — they inges hundreds of bits of plastic every day, and feed it to their chicks.
  • It’s been known that insects are contaminated with plastic pollution, but this is the first documented transfer of plastic from insects shown in free-living river animals.
  • Similar study in Florida recently showed similar results - out of 63 examined birds of 8 different species, all of them had microplastics in their tiny bird guts.

Categories

  • Science Science (67) Solution to century-old math problem could predict transmission of infectious diseases
  • Psychology Psychology (72) Me, myself, bye: regional alterations in glutamate and the experience of ego dissolution with psilocybin
  • Cosmos Cosmos (30) Huge explosion, second only to the Big Bang, discovered 390 million light years from Earth
  • History History (17) World's oldest string of yarn shows Neanderthals were smarter than we thought
  • Society Society (79) At 19, am I too young for cannabis? Choosing the ‘right’ minimum legal age for legalized non-medical cannabis
  • Medicine Medicine (70) Anesthesia's effect on consciousness solved, settling century-old scientific debate
  • Technology Technology (77) A new scheme for satellite-based quantum-secure time transfer
  • Nature Nature (54) New Studies Find Birds Are Eating Hundreds of Plastic Bits Daily

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