06/17/2020 - Okada and colleagues videotaped more than a dozen hours of fights between 17 pairs of fish and then analyzed what happened—and when—in each fight. The longer the fight, the more the fish synchronize their behavior, timing their circling, striking, and biting more than anyone had ever realized, the researchers report today in PLOS Genetics.
- Simple Aesthetic Sense and Addiction Emerge in Neural Relations of Cost-Benefit Decision in Foraging
06/15/2020 - A rudimentary aesthetic sense is found in the stimulus valuations and cost-benefit decisions made by primitive generalist foragers. These are based on factors governing personal economic decisions: incentive, appetite, and learning. We find that the addictive process is an extreme expression of aesthetic dynamics. An interactive, agent-based model, ASIMOV, reproduces a simple aesthetic sense from known neural relations of cost-benefit decision in foraging. In the presence of very high reward, an addiction-like process emerges. A drug-like prey provides extreme reward with no nutritive value, initiating high selectivity and prolonged cravings for drug through reward learning. Varying reward experience, caused by homeostatic changes in the neural circuitry of reward, further establishes the course of addiction, consisting of desensitization, withdrawal, resensitization, and associated changes in nutritional choice and pain sensitivity. These observations are consistent with the early evolution of addiction mechanisms in simple generalist foragers as an aesthetic sense for evaluating prey. ASIMOV is accessible to inspection, modification, and experiment, is adaptable as an educational tool, and provides insight on the possible coevolutionary origins of aesthetics and the addiction process.
04/30/2020 - “These are the beginnings of a direction toward interactive biological devices that could have applications for neurocomputing and for restorative medicine,” Gillette said. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers developed the tiny walking “spinobots,” powered by rat muscle and spinal cord tissue on a soft, 3D-printed hydrogel skeleton. While previous generations of biological robots, or bio-bots, could move forward by simple muscle contraction, the integration of the spinal cord gives them a more natural walking rhythm, said study leader Martha Gillette, (Director of the Neuroscience Program and) a professor of cell and developmental biology.
04/25/2020 - Study Finds (Los Angeles, April 25) – There’s no shortage of scientific evidence that aerobic exercise is good for the brain. Not nearly as many studies have investigated the benefits of yoga exercise, but scientists from the U. of I. say a review of published research shows that yoga strengthens many of the same brain networks as aerobic exercise. “From these 11 studies, we identified some brain regions that consistently come up, and they are surprisingly not very different from what we see with exercise research,” says kinesiology and community health professor Neha Gothe, who co-led the research.
04/08/2020 - CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers used accelerometers to measure daily physical activity in 30 stroke survivors for a week, assessing how much the participants moved and how well they performed routine physical tasks. The study revealed that stroke survivors who engaged in a lot of light physical activity – taking leisurely walks or attending to nonstrenuous household chores, for example – also reported fewer physical limitations than their more sedentary peers. The researchers describe their findings in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “Stroke is a major cause of disability in older adults,” said Neha Gothe, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who led the research. “We know that physical activity can improve how well people survive a stroke and recover after the fact. But almost no research has looked at how physical activity of different intensities affects physical function among stroke survivors.”
- The Grainger College of Engineering and Carle Health demonstrate working prototype of emergency ventilator for COVID-19 patients
04/08/2020 - A team led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering and Carle Health has produced a prototype emergency ventilator to help address the expected surge in the need for respiratory care associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more about the prototype at http://rapidvent.grainger.illinois.edu. “Our team is living the Apollo 13 movie,” said William King, the overall project leader. “We have dropped everything else to work around the clock to help respond to the COVID-19 crisis.” King is a Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering who holds appointments in The Grainger College of Engineering and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. “We have a team of brilliant and dedicated people that made something that actually works in less than one week. It’s very inspiring. We hope that we can engage even more people to work on the global response to COVID-19 as we continue to develop the prototype.” The Illinois RapidVent, as the emergency ventilator is known, would plug into the oxygen source available in most hospital rooms or could plug into a tank of oxygen. The prototype has run for more than 75 hours, which is more than 125,000 breathing cycles. Over this time, the device delivered the amount of oxygen necessary and the pressure that patients would need when they are unable to breathe well enough on their own. So far, focused testing in the laboratory shows equivalent performance to commercial products—which are in very short supply.
04/08/2020 - URBANA, Ill. – You know that feeling in your gut? We think of it as an innate intuition that sparks deep in the belly and helps guide our actions, if we let it. It’s also a metaphor for what scientists call the “gut-brain axis,” a biological reality in which the gut and its microbial inhabitants send signals to the brain, and vice versa.
04/06/2020 - A new study found that the bird’s distinct warning call for Brown-headed Cowbirds might also benefit eavesdropping neighbors.
03/26/2020 - New Atlas, March 24, 2020 - Scrunching graphene up into a wrinkled mess rather than a neat, flat sheet is a technique being explored by researchers pursuing a number of new technologies. These have included using crumpled balls as components for better batteries, combining them with rubber to form artificial muscles, or bunching crumpled graphene balls together for next-generation energy storage. What excites the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign team is crumpled graphene’s potential in biosensing applications where it could spot disease when other diagnostic tools cannot. The scientists see particular promise when it comes to finding subtle biomarkers for cancer that can hide in nucleic acids like DNA and RNA, as our current methods of detecting them have plenty of room for improvement.
03/20/2020 - The Wildlife Society, March 20, 2020: "We always wanted to know, how does a host start to recognize a new threat?” said Matt Louder, lead author of the study published in Scientific Reports, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois. Louder, who is now an ecologist at the environmental consulting firm H.T. Harvey and Associates, said they already knew some red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) don’t attack the cowbirds when they are unfamiliar because they don’t share the same habitat or geographic area.
03/09/2020 - blog posts CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A diet including daily avocado consumption improves the ability to focus attention in adults whose measurements of height and weight are categorized as overweight or obese, a new randomized control trial found. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted the 12-week study, published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology. “Previous work has shown that individuals with overweight and obesity are at higher risk for cognitive decline and dementia in older age,” said kinesiology and community health professor Naiman Khan, who led the study. “We are interested in whether dietary approaches may have benefits for cognitive health, especially in midlife.”
03/04/2020 - Nutrition, Wellness, and the Brain is a free 6-part series taught by Corinne Cannavale, a graduate student in the Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois. Attend all 6 sessions, or simply drop in on the sessions that fit your schedule. This program will be hosted at Lodgic, if you are in need of daycare or lunch, please check out their services. They do offer Kids Camp which is a DCFS licensed care center. Therefore they are able to accommodate children/families who have registered and completed the necessary paperwork. Families can find enrollment information by visiting their website at www.lodgic.org/kids-camp-membership-plans or by stopping by the center to get a first-hand look and speak with a member of their Kids Camp team.
03/03/2020 - CSL Assistant Professor Lav R Varshney is featured in a new YouTube Originals series “The Age of A.I.” Varshney shares his expertise as the episode explores using artificial intelligence to build a better human. Hosted by Robert Downey Jr., the episode investigates augmenting human abilities with A.I. and our reliance on A.I. to make decisions for us.
02/28/2020 - Neuroscience Program alumna, Jill Becker is being honored at the upcoming 30th Anniversary Annual Awards Dinner for the Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR). She received her PhD at the Urbana-Champaign campus while working with Victor Rameriz in the early stages of the Neuroscience Program when it was known as “Neural & Behavioral Biology”. Her research focused then on the effects of estrogens in the brain. Her dissertation, “Sex Differences in Catecholamine Release from Brain Tissue in vitro” was presented before her committee, Victor Ramirez, Gary Jackson, William Greenough, Edward Roy, Martha Gillete, and Sue Carter-Porges, many of whom take credit for the strong foundation of today’s neuroscience program.
02/27/2020 - Fan Lam's enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research has earned him a National Science Foundation CAREER award and more than $500,000 to support his project, “Ultrahigh-Resolution Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging for Label-Free Molecular Imaging of the Brain." As a researcher and assistant professor in Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lam is developing advanced MRI technology to study the brain — how it functions, how it is affected by central nervous system disorders, and how to better detect and treat those diseases.