University of Southern California
For many of us, Valentine's Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the one we love. For others among us... well, we mostly just try not to hate all you cute couples too much and get through the day without feeling too many feelings. For those of us who would rather shut down our perceptions today, there's a far-off glimmer of hope -- researchers at the University of Southern California have succeeded in turning off the ability of mice to feel. Well, to feel the sensation of cold, anyway, though we're hopeful that turning off the ability to feel the bitter sting of disappointment or the dull, lasting ache of loneliness is just down the road.
Remember in middle school when you tried smoking for the first time behind the gym in P.E. because your friend stole some of his older brother's cigarettes? Do you remember how, though you coughed a lot and it was mainly an uncomfortable experience, that kid you had a crush on walked by and you felt like the coolest middle schooler in the world? Well, you probably were pretty cool smoking that cigarette, because new studies show that the popular kids in the U.S. and Mexico are more likely to smoke cigarettes.
By embedding electrical probes in the brains of rats, researchers have demonstrated for the first time that memory can be turned on and off by manipulating the signals sent between distinct regions of the hippocampus. Researchers successfully built a neural prosthesis that was capable of turning long-term memory formation on and off. Previous research has shown the the hippocampus plays a role in converting short-term memories to long-term memories. Researchers from the University of Southern California and Wake Forest University used embedded electrical probes to record the activity of the rat's brain as the two major internal divisions of the hippocampus (sub regions CA3 and CA1) interacted while the rat was learning. These divisions interact to form long-term memories. The rats participated in experiments to teach them which of two levers to press to receive a reward. The researchers drugged the rats to block the normal interactions between CA3 and CA1.
The LA Times is reporting that one of our favorite science guys appears to be having some health problems.
Tristan Camacho, a USC senior who attended the lecture, said [Bill] Nye was walking toward the podium when he collapsed mid-sentence. "Then after about 10 seconds, he popped back up with much gusto and asked everybody how long he was out for and went on with a story about how a similar thing happened to him that morning."Nye attempted to finish his presentation, but exhibited slurred speech and a certain wobblyness of stance and was eventually led off stage. Paramedics responded to the scene, but the LA Times was unsure if Nye was determined to need treatment. We certainly hope that what ever the problem is, it is minimal, and wish Mr. Nye a speedy recovery.