September 2011

Volume 25 Issue 9

The Scientist September 2011 Cover

Featured Articles

image: Secrets of Aging

Secrets of Aging

By | September 1, 2011

What does a normally aging brain look like? Are diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s inevitable?

image: What Causes Alzheimer’s?

What Causes Alzheimer’s?

By | September 1, 2011

Researchers and pharma companies have tried to attack this disease by reducing amyloid plaques, but inflammation may be the real culprit.

image: Showcase Your Science

Showcase Your Science

By | September 1, 2011

Tips for creating a science video or website.

image: The 2011 Labby Multimedia Awards

The 2011 Labby Multimedia Awards

By | September 1, 2011

Introducing the winners of our second annual "Labbies" awards


Capsule Reviews

Capsule Reviews

Art + Science Now, Signs of Life, Perceptions of Promise, Green Light


Poster Perfect

How to drive home your science with a visually pleasing poster



Meet some of the people featured in the September 2011 issue of The Scientist.

Critic at Large

Vive la Différence

Measuring how individual cells differ from each other will enhance the predictive power of biology.


Hold That Thought

In the memory circuits of the aging brain and the signaling pathways of pain, science is trading mystery for mastery.


Animal Electricity, circa 1781

How an Italian scientist doing Frankenstein-like experiments on dead frogs discovered that the body is powered by electrical impulses.


The Seat of Memory

Early on, researchers had learned that the hippocampus was the structure in the brain where long-term memories were created and stored, but it was not known whether the different cell types within this structure might be more or less susceptible to the aging process.

Molecular Learning

Long-term potentiation (LTP), discovered in the 1970s, was later shown to be the molecular basis of memory. 

Lost in Space

Looking for a more realistic way to study memory, we turned to place cells­­—­a network of cells that record a rat’s memory of an environment. 


The Cytokine Cycle

The initiating cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown. However, from our studies it’s clear that many types of neuronal damage—­­from traumatic brain injury, to epilepsy, infection, or genetic predisposition—­can activate brain immune cells—microglia and astrocytes-- promoting them to produce IL-1 and S100 inflammatory cytokines.

Lab Tools

Speak, RNA

A trip through the transcriptome

Modus Operandi

Deep Tissue Treatment

A new, genetically encoded tag for electron microscopy may revolutionize studies of specific proteins in cells and tissues.



When it comes to studying cephalopod brains and behavior, it helps to have a philosopher around.

To Pee or Not to Pee

Have researchers found the seat of urination control in a primitive brain region?

Blood Simple

A veterinary vaccine spawned products that could clean the HIV virus from blood supplies.

Adapting to Climate Change

Indigenous populations are especially vulnerable to the effects of global climate change. A new research project aims to help them adapt.


Beyond Expectation

Philippa “Pippa” Marrack has made some unanticipated discoveries about how the immune system functions in health and disease.

Reading Frames

What Price Kindness?

Exposing the life and work of a visionary and troubled scientist opens a window onto the evolution of altruism.

Scientist to Watch

Corina Tarnita: The Ant Mathematician

Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows, Harvard University. Age: 28


Art + Science Now

The book that serves as bio art's encyclopedia.

Speaking of Science

Speaking of Science

September 2011's selection of notable quotes

The Literature

Amoebae Get Organized

Editor’s Choice in Developmental Biology

Piggyback Pathogen

Editor’s Choice in Immunology

Ribosomes in Control

Editor’s Choice in Cell Biology

Thought Experiment

Puncturing the Myth

Purinergic signaling, not mystical energy, may explain how acupuncture works.

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