Brain tunes itself to criticality, maximizing information processing

Researchers long wondered how the billions of independent neurons in the brain come together to reliably build a biological machine that easily beats the most advanced computers. All of those tiny interactions appear to be tied to something that guarantees an impressive computational capacity. Over the past 20 years, evidence mounted in support of a […]

Multi-institutional team to study effects of age, gender on brain injury mechanics

Traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) have become common in athletes who suffer repeated blows to the head. Most recently, former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski revealed that he had sustained about 20 concussions during his nine-year career in the National Football League. Now, a team of researchers nationwide, led by Philip […]

Finding first principles last: A new control methodology

If an aeronautical engineer wants to make sure a plane stays steady in the air, she might first build a computational model, feeding into it variables such as information about the plane’s weight or the thrust that can be achieved, together with the laws of aerodynamics, which account for how a plane moves through the […]

New, fundamental limit to ‘seeing and believing’ in imaging

Answers to big questions increasingly require access to the realm of the very small. As researchers continue to push the limits of imaging, a scientist at Washington University in St. Louis has uncovered a fundamental barrier to accuracy when it comes to measuring the rotational motion of molecules. Lew Matthew Lew, assistant professor in the […]

Rethinking seizures associated with cardiac disease

Most people with a medical condition called long QT syndrome have a mutation in a gene that causes bouts of fast, chaotic heartbeats. They also experience fainting spells and seizures. The clinical approach has largely assumed that when the heart beats erratically, the brain eventually does not get enough oxygen — which in turn causes […]

The fractal brain, from a single neuron’s perspective

Hacking into brain signals may be more straightforward than once thought. Physicists studying the brain at Washington University in St. Louis have shown how measuring signals from a single neuron may be as good as capturing information from many neurons at once using big, expensive arrays of electrodes. Wessel The new work continues the discussion […]

Pregnancy shifts the daily schedule forward

Add this to the list of what to expect: Getting up earlier, at least in the first trimester. New research from Washington University in St. Louis finds that women and mice both shift their daily schedules earlier by up to a few hours during the first third of their pregnancy. A new study by researchers […]

Researchers receive $3 million to study how adversity affects offspring’s health

Washington University in St. Louis psychology researchers Ryan Bogdan and Thomas Oltmanns received a federal grant totaling more than $3 million to study how adversity may perpetuate racial health disparities and health outcomes within families. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute on Aging is providing the funding, spread over five years. Despite growing evidence […]

Tidying up: A new way to direct trash to autophagy

Marie Kondo herself couldn’t do it any better. Usually cells are good at recognizing what doesn’t spark joy. They’re constantly cleaning house — picking through their own stuff to clear out what no longer works. Damaged or superfluous organelles. Proteins that don’t fold just so. But what happens when the cell fails to recognize trash? […]

Making waves: Researchers shed light on how cilia work

Human bodies have some built-in systems to care for themselves. The cells that line our lungs, nose, brain and reproductive system have cilia, which are tiny, hair-like structures designed to sweep out fluids, cells and microbes to stay healthy. But the mechanisms behind their motion are not well understood. The team of researchers (clockwise, from […]

Cannabis during pregnancy bumps psychosis risk in offspring

Pregnant women who use cannabis may slightly increase the risk their unborn child will develop psychosis later in life, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis. Fine “Our research shows that prenatal marijuana exposure after maternal knowledge of pregnancy is associated with a small increase in psychosis proneness during middle childhood or about […]

Engineering treatments for the opioid epidemic

The U.S. is reeling from a public health crisis driven by the misuse of prescription and illicit opioids with nearly 12 million people abusing the drugs annually. The Midwest saw opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 to September 2017, and every 15 minutes a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal as a […]

WashU Expert: The eternal sunshine of perennial ‘wintertime’

Don’t be left in the dark: The movement to abolish clock-time changes each spring and autumn is gaining momentum. Enthusiasts point to examples from sunny locales. Hawaii has never switched between daylight saving time (DST) and standard time. The state keeps one clock throughout the year, and so does most of Arizona. In 2018, Florida […]

Engineering proteins to help counter devastating diseases

As human lifespans have gotten longer, certain proteins in our bodies are increasingly prone to take on alternative shapes. These misfolded proteins can ultimately trigger neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Meredith Jackrel, assistant professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. […]

A new method for precision drug delivery: painting

If traditional drug delivery were a type of painting, it might be akin to paintball. With good aim, a majority of the paint ends on the bullseye, but it also drips and splashes, carrying streams of paint across the target. If the drug needs to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout your body for treating […]

Earning a bee’s wings

It is a classic coming-of-age story, in many ways. A honey bee hatches and grows up deep inside a hive. Surrounded by 40,000 of her closest relatives, this dark and constantly buzzing place is all that she knows. Only after she turns 21 days old does she leave the nest to look for pollen and […]