Scientists found spherical nanoparticles of magnetite in more than three dozen postmortem human brains. While angular magnetite particles are known to be produced by the brain, these spherical particles resemble those found in polluted air.
“This is the first report of iron oxide particles in brain tissue that may have come from an industrial source. As such, this opens up questions about potential neurotoxic effects from industrial pollutants that had not been previously considered,” University of Florida’s Jon Dobson, who researches the potential neurodegenerative role of biologically produced magnetic compounds and was not involved in the study, told The Scientist.
Researchers have determined the preliminary structure of a shortened form of infectious prion, which in its full length causes mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. According to the study, published this week (September 8) in PLOS Pathogens, the prion segment looks like a coiled mattress spring.
“For the first time, we have a structure of an infectious mammalian prion,” said Giuseppe Legname of Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati in Trieste, Italy, who was not involved in this study. “It’s a very important paper.”
Plating E. coli on a giant, 2-foot-by-4-foot chunk of agar infused with a gradient of antibiotics, researchers were able to document bacterial evolution in time and space, according to a study published this week (September 8) in Science.
“You can see evolutionary branching as it happens,” Luke McNally, an evolutionary microbiologist at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the work, told The Scientist. “It’s amazingly, strikingly beautiful.”
Neurons in a region of the human brain called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) play a role in learning from others’ actions, according to a study published this week (September 6) in Nature Communications.
“The idea [is] that there could be an area that’s specialized for processing things about other people,” says Matthew Apps, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford who was not involved with the study. “How we think about other people might use distinct processes from how we might think about ourselves.”
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