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Neuroscience

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National Public Radio (NPR)

Prof. Mark Bear speaks with NPR’s Jon Hamilton about how injecting tetrodotoxin, a paralyzing nerve toxin found in puffer fish, could allow the brain to rewire in a way that restores vision and help adults with amblyopia or "lazy eye." Bear explains that: “Unexpectedly, in many cases vision recovered in the amblyopic eye, showing that that plasticity could be restored even in the adult.”

NPR

NPR’s Jon Hamilton spotlights Prof. Li-Huei Tsai’s work developing a noninvasive technique that uses lights and sounds aimed at boosting gamma waves and potentially slowing progression of Alzheimer’s disease. "This is completely noninvasive and could really change the way Alzheimer's disease is treated," Tsai says.

Scientific American

Writing for Scientific American, Pamela Feliciano spotlights how a study by Prof. Pawan Sinha examined the predictive responses of people with autism. Sinha found that people with ASD had very different responses to a highly regular sequence of tones played on a metronome than those without ASD. While people without ASD ‘habituate’ to the sequence of regular tones; people with ASD do not acclimate to the sounds over time.”

New Scientist

In an interview with Clare Wilson of New Scientist, Prof. Ed Boyden, one of the co-inventors of the field of optogenetics, discusses how the technique was used to help partially restore vision for a blind patient. “It’s exciting to see the first publication on human optogenetics,” says Boyden.

New York Times

Prof. Ed Boyden speaks with New York Times reporter Carl Zimmer about how scientists were able to partially restore a patient’s vision using optogenetics. “So far, I’ve thought of optogenetics as a tool for scientists primarily, since it’s being used by thousands of people to study the brain,” says Boyden, who helped pioneer the field of optogenetics. “But if optogenetics proves itself in the clinic, that would be extremely exciting.”

Wired

Wired reporter Max Levy spotlights Prof. Emery Brown and Earl Miller’s research examining how neurons in the brain operate as “consciousness emerges and recedes—and how doctors could better control it.” Levy writes that “Miller and Brown's work could make anesthesia safer, by allowing anesthesiologists who use the EEG to more precisely control drug dosages for people who are unconscious.”

Wired

Wired reporter Matt Reynolds spotlights how several MIT researchers have been studying the neurological impacts of loneliness and social isolation.

CNBC

A new study by MIT researchers finds that using credit cards stimulates the brain’s rewards system and can stimulate cravings for further spending, writes Cory Stieg for CNBC. The researchers found “people were more willing to buy more expensive items with credit than cash and spent more overall when using a credit card,” Steig explains.

NIH

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, spotlights Prof. Ed Boyden’s work developing a new technology that “enables researchers for the first time to study an intact tissue sample and track genetic activity on the spot within a cell’s tiniest recesses, or microenvironments—areas that have been largely out of reach until now.”

Scientific American

Scientific American reporter Leslie Nemo spotlights postdoctoral fellow Matheus Victor’s photograph of a petri dish full of neurons. Nemo writes that Victor and his colleagues hope the “rudimentary brain tissue will reveal why a new therapy might alleviate Alzheimer’s symptoms.”

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Rasha Aridi writes that MIT researchers have found that longing for social interaction elicits a similar neurological response to a hungry person craving food. The researchers found that “after a day of fasting, they noted that they were uncomfortable and had intense food cravings. After social isolation, they felt lonely and unhappy and yearned for interactions.”

Fortune

A new study by MIT researchers finds that lack of social contact can lead many people to crave interactions in a similar manner as they do when experiencing hunger, reports Katherine Dunn for Fortune. The researchers found that “10 hours without any social contact, for many people, led to a kind of psychological and physical craving that's on the same level of intensity as 10 waking hours without food.”

Inverse

MIT researchers have uncovered evidence that humans crave social contact in the same way they crave food, reports Ali Pattillo for Inverse. The study, “provides empirical support for the idea that loneliness acts as a signal – just like hunger – that signals to an individual that something is lacking and that it needs to take action to repair that," explains former MIT postdoc Livia Tomova.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Corrie Pikul spotlights Prof. Li-Huei Tsai’s work finding that exposure to a specific pattern of rhythmic lights and sound bursts could potentially serve as a non-invasive treatment for Alzheimer’s. “These are really surprising findings,” says Tsai. “We are seeing multiple different cellular responses that are consistent with increased brain health.”

Forbes

A new center established at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research is aimed at accelerating the development of novel therapies and technologies, writes Katie Jennings for Forbes. The hope is that “we can identify common pathways, either a common molecular pathway that's a chokepoint for a therapy or a common group of neurons or neural systems,” says Prof. Robert DeSimone, director of the McGovern Institute.