Fabbs Foundation | July 29, 2014

Giving Computers the Wisdom of People

Bias is usually thought to cause problems, but some kinds of bias can also help us solve problems. In fact, bias is an essential part of how we understand the world around us, says cognitive psychologist Tom Griffiths of the University of California at Berkeley. Every day, we are required to draw inferences, or educated […]

Newsweek | July 24, 2014

How Your Chilli Addiction Could Be Helping You Live Longer

From the flicker of heat in pepperoncini to the incendiary burn of the Carolina Reaper, the chilli has conquered the world. These pungent pods are now the most widely grown spice crop of all. But, in recent years, the medical profession has become increasingly interested in the chemical ingredient of its trademark heat, with one […]

Berkeley Neuroscience News | July 2, 2014

Insatiable Insects: Identification of four neurons that act as feeding switches in the brain

It is possible to eat until your stomach bursts open, but most people will never come close to this horror. Feeling like your stomach might burst, for example after gorging on a large Thanksgiving feast, is the painful signal that tells you to stop eating and saves you from a worse fate. The neuronal circuits that control our eating behavior have evolved to keep us well fed, but not overfed. There are triggers that tell you to start eating, such as hunger and the availability of food, and triggers that tell you to stop, such as sensation of dangerous foods or gut distension.

But what if that system was broken? Kristin Scott’s lab at UC Berkeley has discovered a small set of neurons in the fruit fly that chronically inhibit eating. Without them, the animal will eat until it regurgitates, excretes, or explodes.

Berkeley News | June 16, 2014

Your genes affect your betting behavior

Investors and gamblers take note: your betting decisions and strategy are determined, in part, by your genes. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, National University of Singapore and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have shown that betting decisions in a simple competitive game are influenced by the specific variants of dopamine-regulating genes in a […]

Berkeley News | May 27, 2014

CNEP researchers target brain circuitry to treat intractable mental disorders

Neuroscientists, engineers and physicians are teaming up for an ambitious five-year, $26 million project to develop new techniques for tackling mental illness. By using devices implanted in the brain, they aim to target and correct malfunctioning neural circuits in conditions such as clinical depression, addiction and anxiety disorders. The project was announced today (Tuesday, May 27) by […]

Berkeley News | May 22, 2014

Pain killers may improve health of diabetics and the obese

Blocking a pain receptor in mice not only extends their lifespan, it also gives them a more youthful metabolism, including an improved insulin response that allows them to deal better with high blood sugar. “We think that blocking this pain receptor and pathway could be very, very useful not only for relieving pain, but for […]

Berkeley Science Review | April 27th, 2014

Faculty Profile – Michel Maharbiz

Michel Maharbiz is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Well-known for the creation of cyborg beetles, Maharbiz imagines a future where bio-interfaces are everywhere. He recently received attention for a theoretical paper he wrote in collaboration with Dongjin Seo, Jose Carmena, Jan M. Rabaey, and Elad Alon about “neural dust,” […]

Berkeley News | April 22, 2014

Commonly available blood-pressure drug prevents epilepsy after brain injury

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 […]

Berkeley News | April 18, 2014

Neuroengineers bring science cred, Berkeley feel to ‘Transcendence’ film

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 […]

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