Simple blood test could reveal epilepsy risk

It is difficult for doctors to diagnose epilepsy as they usually do not observe the symptoms in a patient, but a blood test could overcome this challenge.

A finger-prick blood test to diagnose epilepsy could be available within five years, according to scientists who are using tell-tale molecules called biomarkers to overcome current diagnostic problems and guide treatment. More than 50 million people are affected by epilepsy worldwide. However, diagnosing the disease remains challenging and treatments are often unsuccessful: only 70% of patients taking … Read more

Map of brain cell activity may help us control when we sleep

Scientists still have much to learn about the underlying circuitry that triggers the onset of sleep.

For many people who struggle to get a good night’s rest, being able to switch on and off the brain circuits that control sleep would be a life-changer. The good news is that’s exactly what scientists hope to do, but first they need to get a better understanding of what’s going on. It’s easy to … Read more

Insomnia may stem from hyperalert brains shaped by genes and childhood – Prof. Eus Van Someren

While the overall causes are unclear, early childhood adversities can have an impact on the prevalence of insomnia in later life.

Genes and adverse childhood experiences could result in a hyperalert brain that is good at being ready for action but gives rise to insomnia in later life, according to Professor Eus Van Someren, a sleep expert at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. He is investigating the link between insomnia and depression and has discovered a … Read more

Modifying memories during sleep could reduce trauma

Scientists are looking to see if they could add positive thoughts to bad memories. Image credit – CC0

Reducing the trauma associated with bad memories while someone is asleep sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it could become a reality in 10 years thanks to a greater understanding of how the brain encodes memories during sleep. A good snooze is known to be important for forming memories but it is only … Read more

Sleep-deprived brains may be asleep and awake at the same time

Sleep quality as well as duration is the key to beneficial sleep. Credit — Pixabay/ 422737 licensed under CC0

For something that can occupy such a significant chunk of time, sleep still remains a mysterious part of our lives. Although it is known to play a role in mental and physical health, such as metabolism and memory, there is much that is still not well understood. As a general rule, it’s recommended that adults … Read more

Our 10 favourite science facts from 2017

by Zoé de York From rubber dandelions and toxic crustaceans to anti-vaxxers and the world’s hottest geothermal well, Horizon covered a wide variety of stories in 2017. Here are our 10 favourite science facts that we learned along the way. 1. One sugar-cube-sized chunk of a neutron star would weigh a billion tonnes, or as much … Read more