How the brain controls sleep

Sleep is usually considered an all-or-nothing state: The brain is either entirely awake or entirely asleep. However, MIT neuroscientists have discovered a brain circuit that can trigger small regions of the brain to fall asleep or become less alert, while the rest of the brain remains awake.

This circuit originates in a brain structure known as the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN), which relays signals to the thalamus and then the brain’s cortex, inducing pockets of the slow, oscillating brain waves characteristic of deep sleep. Slow oscillations also occur during coma and general anesthesia, and are associated with decreased arousal. With enough TRN activity, these waves can take over the entire brain.

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If you made money buying a first home in 2000s, you probably weren't black

In the tumultuous real estate market of the 2000s, some U.S. homebuyers found wealth while others took big hits. But no matter when they bought, most black first-time homeowners lost money, a Johns Hopkins University study found.

In a study published in the journal Real Estate Economics, public policy professor Sandra J. Newman and researcher C. Scott Holupka found that race was a key determinant of which low- and moderate-income people who bought first homes during the decade made money. During the Great Recession, white homebuyers on average lost money but black ones lost considerably more. Even during the boom years, when white buyers on average increased their wealth by 50 percent, black buyers lost 47 percent of their wealth.

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Breaking the anxiety cycle

A woman who won’t drive long distances because she has panic attacks in the car. A man who has contamination fears so intense he cannot bring himself to use public bathrooms. A woman who can’t go to church because she fears enclosed spaces. All of these people have two things in common: they have an anxiety disorder. They’re also parents.

Each of these parents sought help because they struggle with anxiety, and want to prevent their children from suffering the same way. Children of anxious parents are at increased risk for developing the disorder. Yet that does not need to be the case, according to new research by UConn Health psychiatrist Golda Ginsburg.

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Antidepressants plus blood-thinners slow down brain cancer

Gliomas are aggressive brain tumors arising from the brain’s supporting glial cells. They account for about a third of all brain tumors, and hold the highest incidence and mortality rate among primary brain cancer patients, creating an urgent need for effective treatments. Certain antidepressants already in the market could lower the risk of gliomas, but there has been little evidence to support their use in patients. Now, scientists at EPFL have discovered that tricyclic antidepressants combined with anticoagulant drugs can actually slow down gliomas by causing the cancer cells to eat themselves. The study is published in Cancer Cell.

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Researchers discover clues on how giraffe neck evolved

A new study of fossil cervical vertebrae reveals the evolution likely occurred in several stages as one of the animal's neck vertebrae stretched first toward the head and then toward the tail a few million years later.

Taming hot flashes without hormones: What works, what doesn't

Some three-quarters of North American women have menopausal hot flashes, but many cannot use hormones for medical reasons or choose not to. Numerous products and techniques are promoted for hot flashes, but do they work, and are they safe? To answer these questions, a North American Menopause Society (NAMS) panel of experts weighed the evidence and made recommendations in a position statement, “Nonhormonal management of menopause-associated vasomotor symptoms,” published online in the Society’s journal, Menopause.

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'Mind-reading' kids are more discriminating learners

To learn about the world around them, young children depend on information provided by others. But that’s not always the best strategy: kids will sometimes take everything grown-ups say at face value, even if they’re unreliable.

New research shows that children are not as gullible as we might think — and that’s especially true for those who have a good understanding of what’s going on inside someone else’s head.

In a paper recently published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, researchers from Concordia University and the University of Ottawa show that even young children can be selective in whom they prefer to learn from.

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