Chick-inspired autism test for newborn babies to help early intervention

Image Credit - Flickr/Alex Starr,CC BY-SA 2.0

Giorgio Vallortigara didn’t set out to develop software that could detect whether babies have autism. A neuroscience professor at the University of Trento in Italy, his areas of expertise include animal cognition – he’s into the brains of honeybees, zebrafish and newly-hatched chicks. ‘I’m not a clinician or an autism expert,’ he confessed. ‘But my … Read more

Could hacking the immune system cure allergies?

Image Credit - Andrew Goloida, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Scientists are redesigning natural allergens to help the immune system defend against them, in a move that could eliminate the side effects and lifelong medication of treating allergies – the most common chronic condition in Europe. More than 150 million Europeans suffer from allergies and this number is on the rise due to triggers such … Read more

Understanding immune system switches will spark new drugs

Image credit - magnaram, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Identifying the chemical switches that turn different parts of our immune system on and off is opening up new avenues for treating diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis – and potential new uses for discarded drugs, according to Professor Luke O’Neill, an immunologist at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Your work focuses on … Read more

Noise and motion links to dyslexia pave way for early diagnosis

Image credit - Jay Inslee, CC BY-ND 2.0

Most children are able to learn language almost effortlessly. But for those with communication disorders such as dyslexia, mastering their native tongue can be a challenge. Researchers are exploring how links with noise, language and motion could help diagnose problems earlier and pave the way for better treatment. Dyslexia is a learning disorder affecting 5% … Read more

From robotic companions to third thumbs, machines can change the human brain

Image credit - Ruud Hortensius and Emily Cross

People’s interactions with machines, from robots that throw tantrums when they lose a colour-matching game against a human opponent to the bionic limbs that could give us extra abilities, are not just revealing more about how our brains are wired – they are also altering them. by Frieda Klotz Emily Cross is a professor of … Read more

Extended napping could cause cognitive decline in older people

Image credit: Silver Santé Study

Regular naps may be one of the privileges of retirement but research is pointing to napping as a contributor to cognitive decline. Scientists are now testing the idea that older people should instead meditate or learn a language to preserve brainpower and wellbeing. Sleep serves a crucial function in brain health and maintenance, but regular, … Read more