Breaking in Order to Build

Image courtesy of the Journal of Cell Biology
Image of labeled (red) DNA breaks in a single cell courtesy of the Journal of Cell Biology

Do you ever think about how every time you encounter something new your brain adjusts and rewires and makes molecular changes so you can remember this new object in the context of what you already know? I know I do, though that may be a by-product of my neuroscience upbringing. Even if you don’t think about it, it’s happening. Complex changes in the numbers and amounts of gene expression are critical to developing and maintaining memories. And as it turns out, breaking the DNA in your brain cells into pieces is also part of the process.

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Smarter mice are safer than smarter sharks

deep blue seaI don’t know if you’re familiar with the cinematic gem Deep Blue Sea, but as far as ridiculous neuroscience sci-fi horror movies go, it is awesome. Let me summarize the plot for you. A group of researchers is working in an underwater lab trying to cure Alzheimer’s. Their proposal involves genetically engineering three Mako sharks to enlarge the size of their brains. Somehow, the researchers plan to harvest these huge brains and then use the tissue to cure Alzheimer’s…  Lets just say, they didn’t cure Alzheimer’s and spoiler! Samuel L. Jackson gets eaten in one of cinema’s greatest death scences. Continue reading “Smarter mice are safer than smarter sharks”

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