Tag Archives: neurons

Fruit flies that rival Michael Jackson’s moonwalking skills

Male fruit fly on a blade of grass macroThese fruit flies may not be quite as smooth as Michael Jackson, but they can certainly moonwalk!

In an attempt to understand how the brain directs the body to walk backwards, scientists turned to fruit flies. Researchers in Austria developed many different strains of fruit flies, each of which was modified so that different areas of the brain responded to heat. After testing thousands of strains of flies, they found a strain that walked backwards when the temperature was increased! And while creating a fly that can moonwalk is cool, the science behind it is what’s important; this fly is helping scientists map the neural pathways involved in walking backwards. It turns out that something that is so simple for us really isn’t understood very well. There are also some animals that lack the ability to walk backwards, and it’s possible that the evolution of these neural signals could be significant in more ways than you might think.

Check out this video and judge for yourself how these flies compare to the King of Pop… we just need some background music, and we’re all set! No word on flies that will dance to ‘Thriller,’ though. Read more here:


Sex can make you smarter- but being smarter doesn’t mean more sex!

iStock_000012917511LargeA high IQ doesn’t necessarily mean more sex- but new research shows that regular sexual activity might make you smarter!

By studying rats that were sexually active every day, researchers found that sex increased the number of neurons created in the hippocampus (a part of the brain where long-term memories are made). Cognitive function was compared to levels seen in younger rats! But these effects only lasted while the rats were consistently sexually active.

The development of neurons can be negatively affected by stress. And while it’s common sense that sex can help reduce stress, it’s interesting that researchers are now able to show the effects of sex on the brain in this way.

Could a healthy sex life help older adults by reducing stress and improving memory and brain function? And if brain cell growth is stimulated by regular sexual activity, can sex really make you smarter?¬†Interesting study… check it out!


Cocaine-using males have offspring that resist addictive behaviors

cocaine cutting drugs addictionResearch at the University of Pennsylvania showed that male offspring of male rats that used cocaine were less likely to become addicted to the drug after having experienced it, and less likely to want the drug in the first place. Researchers found that cocaine use among males likely causes changes in the DNA that are transmitted to male offspring!

It seems that the neurons of the male offspring were less sensitive to cocaine. Normally, after repeated cocaine use, certain receptors in the brain are usually remodeled; this is part of the development of addiction. But in these male offspring, that didn’t happen.

This is important, because it will be interesting to see how these changes in behavior are passed down from generation to generation. Interestingly, this type of ‘immunity’ to addiction wasn’t seen in female offspring. Understanding the mechanisms behind this could potentially help lead to treatments for addiction.

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