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Salk News


Computer program trained to read faces developed by Salk team

La Jolla, CA – A computer program developed by a Salk-led team has been trained to distinguish among a number of facial cues, helping to sort false from genuine expressions. What’s more, the program performs as well as a psychologist trained to read faces and markedly better than human non-experts.


Running boosts number of brain cells, according to new Salk study

La Jolla, CA – Can regular exercise strengthen the brain? According to a new Salk study, animals that get regular voluntary exercise on running wheels grow more new brain cells than sedentary counterparts.


Genetic combination that steers newborn nerve cells identified by salk scientists

La Jolla, CA – Like a sextant that helps guide ships at sea, a specific combination of genes has been identified that directs newly born nerve cells to their final destinations in developing organisms.


Zinc found to be integral part of brain communication channels

La Jolla, CA – Zinc has long been recognized as an essential trace element, and a current study led by Salk Institute investigators shows it to be an integral part of ion channels, structures that regulate communication among nerve cells.


Dissatisfied flies show link between gene and sexual behavior

La Jolla, CA – To paraphrase a classic rock anthem, flies missing a gene that affects sexual behavior “can’t get no satisfaction” no matter how hard they try.


Link between vitamin A and learning abilities established by team led by Salk researchers

La Jolla, CA – Forget something lately? If so, perhaps you should try an extra helping of sweet potatoes or other vitamin A-rich foods on the holiday table.


Slow-learning mice can improve learning speed when raised in enriched environment

La Jolla, CA – Like their human counterparts, all mice are not created equal when it comes to learning new tasks.


Human brains do sprout new cells according to new Salk study

La Jolla, CA – Like bubbles fizzing from fine champagne, it has long been assumed that our supply of brain cells steadily diminishes through our lives, never to be replenished. According to a landmark Salk study, however, new cells are born in human brains, even in mature individuals.


New steroid hormone has allure of its own

La Jolla, CA – The first steroid hormone unearthed in 30 years is a chemical cousin to the molecule that lures pigs to truffles, and like that rare and elusive fungus, it is in a class by itself.


Salk scientists identify molecular link between dietary fat and colon cancer

La Jolla, CA – Although it’s now common wisdom that dietary fat is related to some cancers, medical researchers have not understood the underlying mechanisms. In research reported in the September 1 issue of Nature Medicine, scientists at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies identify a molecular link between fat metabolism and colon cancer. The results may also be relevant to breast and prostate cancer, common cancers that are also associated with dietary fat.


Elusive chromosomal “ignition” identified by Salk scientists

La Jolla, CA – Before the engine that drives cell division goes into gear, it must receive a biological spark from its genetic machinery to set the process in motion. In the current issue of the journal Science, researchers from The Salk Institute for Biological Studies say they have identified that “ignition” point on a human chromosome. Their findings should further understanding of how cell division is normally controlled and how it might be brought back under control in cancer cells.


Gene that determines left from right in vertebrate embryos found by Salk-led team

La Jolla, CA – In a developing organism, knowledge of right from left can often mean the difference between life and death. Certainly, the direction and ultimate destination in which an embryonic heart, lung, stomach or liver travels can be critical for the proper alignment of blood vessels and nerves so that normal life may proceed. Now, a team led by scientists at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies has discovered a molecular guide, in the form of a single gene, that helps youthful cells, tissues and organs decide in which direction to take their first fateful steps–whether to go left or right.


Salk researchers find genetic feedback loop implicated in the early events of atherosclerotic plaque formation

La Jolla, CA – Salk Institute scientists today announced two research findings related to the development of atherosclerosis. The findings involve the discovery of a genetic feedback loop that contributes to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in heart arteries and the role of a previously described fat storage gene (PPARgamma) in this process.


Salk researchers find that brain receptor may be involved in epileptic seizures

La Jolla, CA – Neuroscientists at The Salk Institute showed that mice lacking a specific brain molecule exhibit reduced susceptibility to epileptic-type seizures. The findings suggest that this molecule, GluR6, may be a suitable target for development of new epilepsy drugs.


An enriched environment stimulates an increase in the number of nerve cells in brains of older mice

La Jolla, CA – Salk investigators have discovered that aging mice living in a stimulating environment display three times the number of new brain cells as mice who live in a non-stimulating environment. The age of the mice in the study was 18 months – the human equivalent of 65 years.