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General Health

Mammalian Protein Helps Calibrate Hearing

Researchers have established how a molecule in the inner ear of mammals helps fine-tune auditory perception. Their findings help explain how the brain communicates with the inner ear, reducing its response to sound in loud or distracting environments. Damage by loud noise or drugs underlies the most widespread form of sensorineural hearing loss as well as tinnitus, the debilitating perception of sound in the absence of an external source.

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Structure Of Synaptic Connectors Solved

Researchers have a new picture of how neurons forge physical connections between one another in order to communicate. Establishing these connections is critical for proper brain function, and errors in the process are thought to be associated with autism and other disorders. The new understanding of the structure of the proteins that form this connection and mutations that can disrupt their interaction may help explain some forms of these disorders.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators Axel Brunger and Thomas S

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Studies Illuminate Computational Power Of Neurons

Scientists have found that individual neurons have more computational power and contribute more to behavior than previously thought. The researchers used light to activate individual neurons in living mice and showed that even short bursts of activity in a few neurons can influence learning and decision making.

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