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Better mini brains could help scientists identify treatments for Zika-related brain damage

The team plans to continue using its improved organoids to better understand human brain development and to learn more about autism spectrum disorders, epilepsy and other neurological conditions.   UCLA researchers have developed an improved technique for creating simplified human brain tissue from stem cells. Because these so-called “mini brain organoids” mimic human brains in how they grow and develop, they’re vital to studying complex neurological diseases.   In a study published in the journal Cell Reports, the researchers used the organoids to better understand how Zika infects and damages fetal brain tissue, which enabled them to identify drugs that could prevent the virus’s damaging effects.

Your neurons register familiar faces, whether you notice them or not

When people see an image of a person they recognize—the famous tennis player Roger Federer or actress Halle Berry, for instance—particular cells light up in the brain. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on September 21 have found that those cells light up even when a person sees a familiar face or object but fails to notice it. The only difference in that case is that the neural activity is weaker and delayed in comparison to what happens when an observer consciously registers and can recall having seen a particular image.

UNDERSTANDING THE BRAIN: New technology allows researchers to temporarily shut down brain area to better understand function

Capitalizing on experimental genetic techniques, researchers at the California National Primate Research Center, or CNPRC, at the University of California, Davis, have demonstrated that temporarily turning off an area of the brain changes patterns of activity across much of the remaining brain. The research suggests that alterations in the functional connectivity of the brain in humans may be used to determine the sites of pathology in complex disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

Britain’s First Dedicated “Brain Bank”

The UK’s first dedicated brain and tissue bank for epilepsy will help unlock the mystery of one of the world’s oldest and least understood conditions according to the charity Epilepsy Society. The newly established Epilepsy Society Brain and Tissue Bank will provide a vital research donation facility and central resource to support research into epilepsy and accelerate the development of new treatments and cures. More than half a million people in the UK have epilepsy and a third have seizures that cannot be controlled through anti epileptic drugs. There are around 1,000 epilepsy related deaths each year. Professor Sanjay Sisodiya, who leads the genetics research at Epilepsy Society said:  “Research into epilepsy represents the best hope of finding a cure. Other conditions such as Alzheime...

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