Art by Alexis Wnuk. Photos by Sawyer Bengtson and Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash.
Some 27,000 neuroscientists flocked to Chicago last month for Neuroscience 2019, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. They shared their research and talked about all things neuroscience. Here’s a quick rundown of the science that made headlines:
Marijuana Is a Double-Edged Sword
• Cannabidiol, a compound in marijuana, eases seizures and improves learning and memory in a mouse model of autism.
• Another team of researchers reported cannabidiol disrupted sleep in adolescent rats.
The Social (Brain) Network
• Locking eyes with someone activates a region of the brain’s social network.
• Holding the hand of a loved one syncs your brain activity and eases pain.
Alzheimer’s Linked to Metabolic Changes
• Blood sugar spikes and dips can affect your sleep, but this relationship breaks down in Alzheimer’s disease.
• Alzheimer’s and diabetes are linked, but scientists are only just beginning to understand how.
• A new clinical trial is testing whether light and sounds waves can clear plaques and improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Promise and Perils of Organoids
• Brain organoids are tiny clumps of neurons that self-assemble into three-dimensional structures in the lab. Grown from human stem cells, these so-called “mini-brains” may become an important model for understanding human brain development and disease.
• But, they differ from real human brains in important ways — organoids are stressed out and behave differently than neurons taken from human brains.