It’s time for the first (and hopefully not last) installment of Neurosciency Friday (inspired by NPR Science Friday!), in which I bring you science news and tidbits from around the web. I’m excited about it, and I hope you are, too!
- Researchers at MIT have found a way to generate false memories in the brains of mice. To do this, the researchers used optogenetics, a way to control neurons using light. The scientists first identified fear-related neurons in regions of the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped part of the brain involved in storing and retrieving memories. Then, they “tagged” those neurons with channelrhodopsin-2, a protein that is activated by light. Next, they shone light on the brain cells, and voila … the mice (literally) cowered in fear! Incidentally, this summary of the findings may just be the best piece of news writing ever.
- Thirty-six years after it was sent into space, NASA says that Voyager 1 has become the first spacecraft to leave the solar system. However, not everyone is convinced. Pics or it didn’t happen! (Kidding.)
- A systematic review of studies of exercise and depression found that exercise significantly improves mood. Even more reason to lace up those running shoes!
- Why are fish smart? Because they swim in schools. (Ha ha.) Seriously, though, the next time someone says that, tell them that swimming in schools is in their genes. Researchers have found that the tendency to swim in schools maps to regions of the genome, at least in a small fish called the threespine stickleback.
What are your plans for the weekend? (Science-related… or not!)