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

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

Lifting the red mist with research on aggression

Angry tiger

For most people a bit of healthy aggression can give them a competitive edge, but in some it can spill over into violence and now scientists are hoping to unravel why. Aggression is among the most fundamental of natural behavioural responses seen in all animals. It can help predators secure their next meal and gives … Read more

Human-dog bond provides clue to treating social disorders

Border collie dog and human

The chemistry behind social behaviour in animals, including the bond between people and dogs – and the lack of one between humans and wolves – could help scientists identify new ways of treating social disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. ‘We think that the genetic foundation for social behaviour is very similar in dogs and … Read more