Bacteria keep us healthy – but could they keep us young?

Image Credit - Flickr/Pedro Simoes CC BY 2.0

By Gareth Willmer A study in mice has indicated that the make-up of bacteria in the gut is linked with learning abilities and memory, providing a potential avenue of research into how to maintain cognitive functioning as we age. It’s part of a field of research looking at the link between gut bacteria and ageing … Read more

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

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

Nature or nurture: How do we end child obesity?

An estimated 224 million children worldwide are overweight or obese.

A smartphone app that challenges children to engage in healthy behaviour, and genetic studies that investigate risk factors for obesity, are taking a nature and nurture approach to tackling one of the biggest epidemics of our time – childhood obesity. Around 224 million children around the world are overweight, making obesity one of the biggest public health … Read more

Mini-brains offer hope in search for new drugs for brain disorders

Cerebral organoids allow scientists to test new drugs on human brain tissue in labs.

Miniature brains grown in laboratory dishes could overcome some of the problems testing drugs on animals and help researchers identify new ways to treat very human, and incurable, conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. Most new drugs are developed and tested using mice as models. However, with brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, the animals never … Read more