Commonly available blood-pressure drug prevents epilepsy after brain injury

April 22nd, 2014

Between 10 and 20 percent of all cases of epilepsy result from severe head injury, but a new drug promises to prevent post-traumatic seizures and may forestall further brain damage caused by seizures in those who already have epilepsy.

A team of researchers from UC Berkeley, Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Charité-University Medicine in Germany reports in the current issue of the journal Annals of Neurology that a commonly used hypertension drug prevents a majority of cases of post-traumatic epilepsy in a rodent model of the disease…

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Sichuan Pepper’s Buzz May Reveal Secrets Of The Nervous System

April 22nd, 2014

The Sichuan peppercorn is known to give some Chinese dishes a pleasant tingling feeling.

What’s not so pleasant is that pins-and-needles feeling we get when our foot falls asleep — or when people who suffer from paresthesia experience constant tingling in their limbs.

Diana Bautista, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, wondered: Could these sensations be connected?

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Brain size matters when it comes to animal self-control

April 21st, 2014

Chimpanzees may throw tantrums like toddlers, but their total brain size suggests they have more self-control than, say, a gerbil or fox squirrel, according to a new study of 36 species of mammals and birds ranging from orangutans to zebra finches…

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Neuroengineers Bring Science Cred, Berkeley Feel to ‘Transcendence’ Film

April 19th, 2014

Engineering professor Jose Carmena was working on a research grant in December 2012 when his colleague and friend, Michel Maharbiz, burst through his office door accompanied by director Wally Pfister and a production team for an upcoming sci-fi thriller. The Hollywood filmmakers were working on a story about a brilliant artificial intelligence scientist whose brain is uploaded to a quantum computer, and they were seeking to tap the UC Berkeley researchers’ expertise in neural engineering and brain-machine interfaces…

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On Memory’s Trail

April 8th, 2014

Berkeley neuroscientist Ehud (Udi) Isacoff, and his colleagues explore the brain at several levels critical to ultimately understand how memories form and what can threaten their demise. They study how molecular interactions drive neuron-to-neuron communication and influence how neurons “wire up” to form networks during embryonic development.

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Director Wally Pfister Visits UCB to Discuss the Science Behind ‘Transcendence’

April 7th, 2014

Transcendence” director Wally Pfister, Oscar®-winning cinematographer (“Inception”), will come to the University of California, Berkeley, for a screening of exclusive film clips and audience Q&A. The movie, opening Friday, April 18, is about a leading artificial intelligence researcher, played by Johnny Depp, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. UC Berkeley provided significant inspiration during the making of the film.

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