Neuroscience

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Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Neuroscience - Videos

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Salk scientists discover how learned behaviors are organized and controlled by different brain cell types, offering insight into Parkinson’s, OCD

LA JOLLA—Driving to work, typing an email or playing a round of golf—people perform actions such as these throughout the day. But neuroscientists are still unsure how the brain orchestrates complex actions or switches to a new action—behaviors that are impaired in disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Read more »


Grafted brain organoids provide insight into neurological disorders

LA JOLLA—Many neurological disorders—Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, even depression—have lagged behind in new therapies. Because the brain is so complex, it can be difficult to discover new drugs and even when a drug is promising in animal models, it often doesn’t work for humans. Read more »


Early developmental experiences influence DNA in the adult brain

LA JOLLA—In the perennial question of nature versus nurture, a new study suggests an intriguing connection between the two. Salk Institute scientists report in the journal Science that the type of mothering a female mouse provides her pups actually changes their DNA. The work lends support to studies about how childhood environments affect brain development in humans and could provide insights into neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. Read more »


Decoding the chemistry of fear

Ask a dozen people about their greatest fears, and you’ll likely get a dozen different responses. That, along with the complexity of the human brain, makes fear—and its close cousin, anxiety—difficult to study. For this reason, clinical anti-anxiety medicines have mixed results, even though they are broadly prescribed. In fact, one in six Americans takes a psychiatric drug.

A team of investigators from the Salk Institute uncovered new clues about the mechanisms of fear and anxiety through an unlikely creature: the tiny nematode worm. By analyzing the responses of worms exposed to chemicals secreted by its natural predator and studying the underlying molecular pathways, the team uncovered a rudimentary fear-like response that has parallels to human anxiety. Such insights may eventually help refine prescriptions for current anti-anxiety drugs and enable the development of new drugs to treat conditions like PTSD and panic disorder. Read more »


Fruit fly brains inform search engines of the future

Salk scientists, Saket Navlakha and Charles Stevens have a paper that shows that the way fruit flies identify smells that are most similar to ones they’ve encountered previously could improve computer search algorithms. That’s because identifying similar images or music or documents in a database is the same kind of problem (known as a “similarity search”), which the fly brain solves in a novel way that can be applied to computers.
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