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Posts in category Miscellaneous
Researchers demonstrate how some genes evolved from an immune function to an olfactory role in some mammals.
Mammals possess several lines of defense against microbes. One of them is activated when receptors called Fprs, which are present on immune cells, bind to specific molecules that are linked to pathogens. Researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, showed in 2009 that these same receptors were also present in the nose of mice, probably to detect contaminated food or to avoid sick conspecifics. The biologists now describe in the journal PNAS how Fprs have acquired this olfactory role during rodent evolution, moving from the immune system to a neuronal system. This innovation results from two genomic ‘accidents’ that occurred several millions years apart during the evolution of rodents.
Figure legend : Mammals express Fprs in their immune cells (yellow). A first genomic accident led to the expression of an Fpr in olfactory neurons of a rodents’ ancestor (dark blue). This was followed by a second accident that occurred in the mouse lineage (light blue).
IMVERSE, an EPFL spinoff, has developed a software that lets users convert 360-degree images from 2D into 3D and both manipulate and create virtual-reality content in real time with the help of virtual-reality glasses. The system will be unveiled at the World VR Forum in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, from 11 to 14 May.
It’s now easier than ever to create a 3D environment and then add and manipulate virtual-reality content in real time, thanks to the software created by EPFL startup Imverse. What’s required? A 360-degree 2D photo taken with any commercial camera, and a pair of off-the-shelf virtual-reality glasses. The software is similar to photo editing software allowing the users to freely explore and modify the environment created from the picture in real time.
Full article on EPFL-News >
The human brain has the ability to recognize and process a very wide range of sensory stimuli, from which it builds a mental representation. But do these representations change over time? Can we learn to classify and interpret stimuli more effectively?
Neuroscientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have been trying to answer these questions by studying the olfactory system of mammals. They have succeeded in identifying the complementary role played by two distinct kinds of neurons in processing olfactory information and the different brain re-organization that occurs depending on the context.
After having previously demonstrated the possibility to boost the capacity to distinguish similar smells by regulating the inhibition of certain neural networks, the scientists now explain why the brain has to make use of different sorts of cells to form, maintain and reshape the representations of odors. In fact, it is their very combination that enables us to recognize and distinguish similar smells. Find out more about the research outcomes in the journal Neuron.
Every year 15 million preterm infants are born, and most spend their first weeks in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Although essential for the support and survival of these infants, the sensory environment of a NICU is dramatically different from the environment in which term-born infants mature, and thus impacts the development of functional brain organization. Amplifying the importance of this fact, early sensory development is the critical scaffold upon which healthy perceptual, behavioral and cognitive development depends.
In neonates, touch is a building block for interpersonal interactions and sensory-cognitive development. Many NICU treatments used to improve neuro-developmental outcomes rely heavily on touch. Yet, we understand little of how the brains of babies born prematurely and the quality of their early-life tactile experiences (e.g., supportive touch vs. painful tactile events) interact to shape ongoing brain development.
Kathryn Hess-Bellwald, professors at the BMI at EPFL is among the 65 mathematical scientist from around the world who have been named Fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) for 2017. She has been elected for her contributions to homotopy theory, applications of topology to the analysis of biological data, and service to the mathematical community.
The Fellows of the American Mathematical Society program recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication, and utilization of mathematics. Among the goals of the program are to create an enlarged class of mathematicians recognized by their peers as distinguished for their contributions to the profession and to honour excellence
Who hasn’t felt a sense of loss or detachment from our families, friends, and regular routines, or experienced nervousness and anxiety about changes in our personal and professional lives?
For some, fear and worry constantly distract, confuse, and agitate. For others, frequent and severe bouts of depression are a debilitating daily burden that interferes with family, career, and social responsibilities. All too often, such problems lead to alcohol or drug abuse, self-destructive behavior, or even suicide.
Mental health is an essential part of human existence—but it tends to be transitory for millions of people throughout the world. […]
By Patricio V. Marquez and Shekhar Saxena.
Published in Cerebrum, full article ►