Brain-cooling experiment may help ease epilepsy someday
About 50 million people worldwide deal with sudden, recurring seizures that are the hallmark of epilepsy. Treatment with medication or surgery does not work for some patients, so scientists have been investigating a potential alternative called focal cooling, in which a device would be implanted in the brain to suppress the electrical signals — discharges — that characterize epileptic seizures.
In a new PLOS Computational Biology study, researchers sought to better understand the mechanism by which focal cooling operates using a rat model. They employed a computational model of the rat brain to simulate different mechanisms underlying the effects of a focal cooling device on epileptic discharges, and were able to reduce activity at connections between neurons, resulting in less frequent discharges.
Further investigation and laboratory studies could help the researchers refine their model and better understand the mechanisms that underpin focal cooling.
Research Article: Soriano J, Kubo T, Inoue T, Kida H, Yamakawa T, Suzuki M, et al. (2017) Differential temperature sensitivity of synaptic and firing processes in a neural mass model of epileptic discharges explains heterogeneous response of experimental epilepsy to focal brain cooling. PLoS Comput Biol 13(10): e1005736. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005736
Image Credit: Soriano et al, partially adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fmrtuebersicht.jpg
Ornamented artifact may indicate exchange between Mesolithic communities
Researchers recently found an ornamented, baton-like artifact known as a bâton percé carved from an antler of unknown origin in central Poland. They published their discovery in PLOS ONE.
The researchers conducted DNA and stable isotope analyses of the artifact to find out where it came from. They found that it was made of an antler from a reindeer species whose range was limited to northern Scandinavia and northwestern Russia during the early Holocene epoch. This may suggest that the artifact was transported from eastern Finland to central Poland.
The reasons why this artifact was transported are unknown, but the authors suggest that their results are possible evidence for the flow of goods between hunter-gatherer groups over large distances. This study provides new insight into how ideas and items were exchanged in Mesolithic communities within northeastern Europe.
Research Article: Osipowicz G, Witas H, Lisowska-Gaczorek A, Reitsema L, Szostek K, Płoszaj,T, et al. (2017) Origin of the ornamented bâton percé from the Gołębiewo site 47 as a trigger of discussion on long-distance exchange among Early Mesolithic communities of Central Poland and Northern Europe. PLoS ONE 12(10): e0184560. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184560
Image Credit: Osipowicz et al (2017)